As I looked over the children’s artwork , I wondered if they or their parents had really understood the assignment.  The homework sheet asked the children to create something expressing their hope on Martin Luther King Day.  I had been excited to see what preschoolers would create; how King’s radical message might translate into the terms of a four-year old’s daily experience.  Yet much of the art didn’t seem to deal with the theme at all.

Many of the pictures expressed hope for things the children might receive, almost like letters to Santa.  Rather than tying into a larger story, kids colored a world where their own individual preferences were met (preferences for lovely things, like cake and puppies, but not necessarily things that had to do with Martin Luther King).  Standing in contrast to the array of wish lists was one boy’s art.  He hoped, he wrote, for a world without any jails.  Martin Luther King had been taken to jail for doing the right thing.  And he hoped that that would not happen to anyone again.  I also learned from the artist that Martin Luther King taught people to be peaceful, which was a very important thing to remember and a very difficult thing to put into practice.  I should say that the children are very perceptive in conversation; I often talk to them when I am dropping off or picking up.  So perhaps the candy-coated artwork was just a misunderstood assignment.

It made me wonder, of course, how often we all misunderstand the assignment when it comes to Dr. King.  So I would like to ask you what the Montessori teachers asked their kids:  What do you hope this Martin Luther King Day?  Let’s think and talk together.

With aloha,

J

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