This weekend, I watched a film on Netflix entitled, The Kindergarten Teacher. There are plenty of movies about inspirational teachers who truly make a difference in the lives of their students and community. This is not one of those movies.
The story revolves around a 40 year-old kindergarten teacher who sees talent in one of her students. He has a rare gift for poetry that he doesn’t understand. She tries her best to nurture that talent and, in the process, loses herself.
Teachers should be careful to draw inspiration from this character as she crosses professional boundaries and lines. She even breaks the law. While the film is disturbing on many levels, there is a message behind it that we could apply in our classrooms.
The teacher speaks about the young boy in her class and says . . .
“Appreciate how rare that gift is. I mean, I’ve been a kindergarten teacher for almost twenty years and I’ve never seen anything like it. And I just want to support it and protect it as much as I possibly can.
Talent is so fragile and so rare. And our culture does everything to crush it. Even at 4 or 5, they’re coming into school attached to their phones, talking only about TV shows or video games It’s a materialistic culture, and it doesn’t support art, or language, or observation.
Even my own children, who are great, they don’t read. You think, maybe it’s just a phase. But I worry that it’s something larger. A lack of curiosity. A lack of reflection. No one has space for poetry.”
Imagine that we, as teachers, can help students grow creatively, that we can nurture the talent that is already visible in our classrooms. And that we can do it without becoming obsessed. Let’s support art, language and observation. Let’s nurture these abilities, recognize talent when we see it, encourage our students to develop it further, and then get our of their way to see where they take it.
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