Showing posts from March, 2013

Fairyland and the Deep-down Third Grader, by Anna Ilona Mussmann

Success, in fairy tales, is achieved through adherence to arbitrary instructions. Nowadays the message of obedience appears degrading; yet as a former teacher of third grade students, I notice a familiar mindset in the rules of fairyland. These rules express the sort of outlook that is embraced by the developing eight-year-old mind.

The dynamics of the playground are not so different from fairyland. There are teachers with random, arbitrary instructions—everyone must keep her hands in her pockets when standing in line, or use his blue notebooks for spelling, or circle with yellow and underline with red. Why? Because that is the rule. There are mean people who may persecute one indefinitely for no discernible cause, there are kind people who will share their lunch or soccer ball, and there is the potential for great deeds of strength and sporting agility that will awe and impress the class. Many an undersized, twitchy child has imagined feats that would allow him or her to rise from …