Monday, March 7, 2011

Ryan Emerging

It's so much fun watching Ryan come alive.  She's still often overshadowed by Andrew's accomplishments and by the needs of her whirling dervish twin brothers, but she is quietly making her own mark too.

Ryan brings home her flute after her first lesson at school.

You just have to take the time to look for it.

She's discovering music, encouraged through the Glee Club, which meets on Fridays to listen to popular dance tunes. (Think Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus)  Classical training it is not, but the kids get to sing and dance along.  Have fun with their peers.  Enjoy themselves.  And isn't that what music has always been about?  (Remember, Mozart was the Mick Jagger of HIS day!) 

Ryan gets to belong just by being herself.  How great is that?!

She has done a Power Point presentation for her German class on our move from Germany to Australia.  And some other work on the computer at school that I've only heard about.  One was about saving the wolves in the western USA and one about saving the koalas here.

She is being encouraged to write about what she enjoys.  And the work isn't coming back crossed out in red pen, the mistakes she's made overshadowing the joy of the ideas she put into it.

And look what's coming back!

Hanging in the school foyer, Ms Valley's grade 4/5 class designed their own personal flags.

Her work is improving on it's own.  Without third drafts and red ink.  They're just letting her WRITE!

She gets to write about herself too.  Define herself.  And have pride in who she is.

It looked as if Ryan could have written FOREVER!
And look.  The artwork is FREE-FORM!  THANK GOODNESS she's been allowed to put away that DAMN ruler - in ART CLASS!  And been allowed to explore her creativity instead of being graded on her straight lines and neatness.  She took first place in a classroom coloring competition because her entry looked DIFFERENT from everyone else's!  DIFFERENT?  She would have had to redo the assignment - properly, like everyone else's - in her old school.

Not enough room on the paper for all that she is!
Ryan's class in Germany did a project where the kids had to find two things that everyone in the class did well.  It was meant as a form of encouragement.  But Ryan was known for two things - all four years - she spoke English well and she loved to ride horses.

That was Ryan.  Summed up and neatly packaged, ready for delivery to Hauptschule.

Here she speaks English funny (although better than her parents who still don't know how to pronounce 'tomato') but German well.  But that doesn't define her.  We've got kids in the school from Africa, Japan, the Phillipines, Thailand, New Zealand, indigenous Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, even another American whose Mommy speaks in proper southern dialect to distinguish herself from the Canadians WE sound like.

Everyone is encouraged to be proud of where they came from.  But it doesn't define them.  Neither do their accomplishments.  Or weaknesses.

The reality is, here like everywhere else, that kids from different socio-economic backgrounds or living situations, will realistically have different opportunities and futures. 

But here at least we can dream.  (Just like in the USA where the disparities in opportunities are more glaringly obvious, at least the DREAM is that every child CAN grow up to be president!)

No government-sanctioned labelling and sorting.  Germany, we do NOT need to be 'realistic' about our childrens' futures.  If we don't let ALL of them reach for the stars, there is no chance for them to get there.

Trying on a new role for size.

And, while it is easy to bask in the light of brilliant stars, or to embrace the sweetest children, it's the kids that DON'T shine on their own that need and deserve our attention and encouragement.  It's the kids that are hardest to love that we need to love the most.  (Easier said as a part-time volunteer mother than a full-time teacher, I admit!)

The best part about kids is that they continue to surprise us.

Let them out of the box, and let's see what they can do!

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