Coloring in the Lines

This was a glorious weekend for me.  I say that half truthfully, because the weekend also represented a fair amount of pain and sadness.  It was glorious because I was able to reconnect with an even deeper purpose and conviction to the reasons why I am on this journey, on this path.

It was a tough weekend because I was accused, by some, of being a media whore and an idiot for speaking out against the relentless pursuit of accomplishment and the dark side of America’s achievement culture as seen in the compelling, don’t miss, film Race To Nowhere .

The Race to Nowhere became personal for me, 24 hours after seeing the film, when my Indigo son melted down in front of my eyes, and subsequently my iPhone.  He was in a complete panic that he used the wrong color marker while coloring Flat Stanley for his second grade class homework assignment.  “It has to be perfect” my 8 yr. old sobbed.

This exact circumstance is magically captured in a song written a generation ago by Grammy award winner, Harry Chapin.  The song Flowers are Red, takes the protagonist from the edge of genius to the middle of nowhere.  The song follows as a child tries and tries again to color outside the lines but is denied.  Finally, after moving to another school, where coloring outside the lines is permitted, the little boy is unable to remember he even had the desire to try.

Note, to all you teachers who might be reading, this is not an indictment on you, the mostly caring, dedicated, overworked and underpaid legion of educators, but rather a reflection on the educational system and each of us responds to individuality.   For too many, achieving a “perfect” result matters more than the personal style and beauty of the effort.

I am including the link to the song/video and lyrics.  I urge everyone to listen.  This is never about any one child or any one song or any single school district or specific teacher.  It is about each of us.

I cannot yet discuss details of the response I am getting from anonymous bullies and the “system” but suffice it to say that this Mama-bear is no shrinking violet and I am ready to take a stand on this issue.  I hope this blog resonates for each of you, passionate Mothers and blog readers.

This is what it’s about – being a Mom, standing up to defend our children’s individuality, Indigo natures, mind-body-spirit integration and just plain ol’ basic educational needs.  My original video was only shared previously with school administrators, close friends and advocates.  I am now sharing it with my larger Mamazina/Mamapalooza & Diva-Mama blog family.  You can view it on YouTube.   Stay tuned . . .

4 Responses to Coloring in the Lines
  1. Michelle Bieber
    March 25, 2011 | 7:16 am

    Another perspective on the situation from my 7 year old was that the instructions never included the word “perfect”. She knew that her “best quality work” was what was expected. I don’t think this assignment had anything to do with “the relentless pursuit of accomplishment”. The students were clearly given the instructions and expected to follow them. In the classroom, they are given other opportunities to “color out of the lines”–this was just not one of them. Like it or not, children need to learn to follow guidelines. It’s not necessarily conformity, just the way of the world.

    • Diva-Mama
      March 28, 2011 | 8:48 pm

      Thank you Michelle, for taking the time to share your child’s thoughts. It’s a great thing when an academic environment doesn’t feel like a pressure cooker to a child. I wish it were so for many others, including mine. But we all continue the journey together and hopefully, make a difference in ways big and small.

  2. Rusty Mattione
    August 15, 2011 | 3:58 pm

    Believe it or not it gave me a headache! :o)

    • Diva-Mama
      August 17, 2011 | 9:48 am

      Dear Rusty,

      It was perhaps the stunning content of the blog that rattled your previous perceptions of our educational system and how it affects our children that gave you the headache. Hope you are feeling better now.

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