I play volleyball on Wednesday evenings, in the gym at a local elementary school (K thru 5). Sometimes, during breaks between games, I take a walk around the (small) school, and this post is about some things noted in the gym and around the school.
The walls of the gym used to, in years past, be papered with “inspirational” posters, the kind that tell kids they should always do their best, that they should treat their classmates well, and that sort of thing. Only a few remain now, and that seems much better — it was a bit excessive before. But one of the posters, now gone, always puzzled me: it depicted Snoopy, the dog from the Peanuts comic strip, attempting to fly off the roof of his dog house using oak leaves as wings. And it said, “Never say you can’t until you try.”
It seemed to me that the message lacked some sense of ensuring that one’s goals be reasonable, feasible, physically possible. I mean, do we really want kindergarten kids thinking that they should try to fly using oak leaves, before deciding that they can’t?
One thing that’s on the gym wall now is a computer-printed sheet that lists “Conflict resolution methods.” There are three listed. The first is “Walk”. There’s no explanation, so I have to guess, but I presume that means to walk away from a conflict, or perhaps to take a walk to cool down, before invoking the rest of the list. The second is “Talk”, always the best way to try to resolve things.
The third, which I found amusing as being the only remaining option, is “Use ‘rock, paper, scissors’.” A nice goal, but I recall having as many arguments over “rock, paper, scissors” as over anything else, when I was that age.
Each classroom door has on it the name of the teacher who uses that room (or teachers; a few have two). There are perhaps 40 teachers in the school, give or take. Every one of them is a woman — the titles are all “Mrs” or “Ms”. There is not one male teacher in that school. Not one. I wonder: what is the percentage, overall, of female teachers at the elementary levels?
Posted in the gym is a list of months, with themes for each — each month has a social attribute as its focus. December’s was “Kindness and Compassion”, and in one of the hallways is a display of a student project using that theme: The Caterpillar of Kindness and Compassion. Said caterpillar, made of paper circles, has a head and a tail, and many body segments in between. Each body segment has written on it one student’s contribution, something that suggests how people can show kindness and compassion to others.
I like the Caterpillar of Kindness and Compassion.
January’s theme is “Cooperation and Teamwork”, a fitting theme as we use the gym for our volleyball games.