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Sophie & Daffodils & WritingPhotog

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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