Over the years, I’ve planted daffodils–all kinds–all over our backyard. This year the first to bloom are at the edge of our “woods.” Sophie and Linda are headed to pick a blossom for Sophie to take home. Later we were coloring together & she spontaneously said: Sophie: I don’t want to be a writer. Grammy: Why? Sophie: Because they write all the time. For me, this was a particularly interesting exchange because Sophie’s school (she’s in kindergarten at a NYC public school) uses a writing program in which during the writing period students’ real names aren’t used; instead they’re called “Writers.” In my classes at Queens College (long before Sophie started school), I’ve questioned that practice for several reasons: it erases student’s individual identity, it collapses the art and skill of becoming a writer into a generic label, and it conflates/confuses the task of learning the life skill of writing with the decision to be a writer when you grow up–while that decision is optional, the task is not. So what did I do?? Oh, wow, I thought, now what do I say? (while simultaneously thinking–this is evidence for my critique). Then I said, G: But you don’t have to be a writer, you just need to be Sophie who can write. S: Oh. G: Do you still want to be a veterinarian? S: Yes. G: So you don’t have to worry about having to write all the time. But you do have to write when you go to school to learn how to be a vet, and when you write How-To books about taking care of animals (Sophie had written a how-to book last week on “How to put children to bed). And you love to illustrate stories, right? S: Yes. G: So that’s another reason to write, to write stories for your pictures. S: Oh.
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