Coloring

My son is a smart, loving, busy little bee. He is six and in kindergarten at an independent school. Having made that last statement, I am sure you are not suprised to know the philosophy is little to no homework at this grade level. But, with me as his mom, and a third grade sister to keep up with, my son is generally amenable to the creative homework suggestions he gets at home.

After a little coaxing one afternoon, I got him to dig deep in his backpack for something to do. We got past the half eaten sandwich and brought up a computer story board he created in class. It had a coloring book opportunity of sorts, along with a story line. This particular story was about a boy getting ready to go out and play in the snow with his friends at recess.

Out came the resident box of crayons, markers, and colored pencils, and we had ourselves a homework assignment! My son was excited and asked me to choose a favorite color for a scarf and gloves. ”Blue or red?”, he asked. I chose red.

He went on to consider the colors for the class rug, which was to look just like the rug in his own classroom. Out came yellow, blue, orange, green, etc. Colors were bursting all over the place.

Now, it was time to give some life to the teachers and students that were in the story. I suggested beige, tan, brown, and peach colors. He was absolutely stunned that I would suggest such colors. “Mom, I want the picture to look just like my class.” Of course, I encouraged him to make the class look as he would like it to be, you know, a sort of world view flavor. But, he was determined to color what he saw. I was somewhat appreciative of the level of comfort he had in his own reality. My friends, I think we should all Facebook Crayola and ask that they be inclusive and have their custom skin tone box of crayons added to the box of 64! Because, unfortunately my son left every single face, paper white in this otherwise colorful coloring book.

Although I was happy that he seemed unaffected by the lack of diversity in his class, I am not sure that I was that comfortable with the reality. I am quite aware that I wholeheartedly made the choice to place both of my children in an environment of great privilege. But the verdict is still out on the impact it will have on them, on me. So, where did that teachable moment go with the homework assignment? Lost forever to his educational environment? Was my quest for the best educational experience negating who he was and our ever growing diverse and global community? Does he equate excellence with being white? Does he see excellence in himself? Did I do the right thing choosing an independent school? Am I doing enough in his school to create a different environment? Or, should I just get back to work?

The education, the experience, the opportunities are so privileged that separate and unequal still echoes when you compare our culturally and socially monolithic independent schools to many of our better public schools.

Since my family chose, and continues to choose an independent school education, we will keep coloring. Will you join us?

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