I was surprised when my daughter told me that her teacher had said that she didn’t want to see any fat bottoms. I was relieved to find out that this was a comment about handwriting rather than the shape or size of my daughter or anyone else. It turns out that it is to do with handwriting and that my daughters W’s have fat rather than pointy bottoms and so she is being retrained in writing a W.
Apparently the school is following a particular handwriting scheme and everyone in the school is supposed to write their letters in an identical way. I was talking with a friend of mine, who is a primary school teacher, about this and she made a shocking confession! It turns out that she has to concentrate especially hard when writing a particular letter when she is at school because the way she writes it is different to the scheme that the school follows.
I have to admit that I find the whole fat or pointy bottom handwriting thing fairly ridiculous. The irony is that my daughter has beautiful handwriting (unlike mine!) but the message that she had received from the teacher was ‘your handwriting isn’t good enough’.
I think it is especially sad that there are policies in place that are trying to force children into doing things in an identical way. We need to give children space to flourish in areas that they excel in, not limit them by trying to make them conform.
I believe that we are created by God as unique individuals. The Bible says that we are made in God’s likeness and as God is the creator it follows that we all have individual and different creativity. If you follow my blog you will know that my daughter is incredibly creative and when she is at secondary school I am going to encourage her to return to her fat bottoms.
I hope that we can do more to encourage and nurture creativity and individuality in people. Some of you reading this may be outraged at what has happened and it’s easy to focus on what we feel is wrong with others. It is worth considering how we can encourage creativity and individuality in others. Do we expect those around us to do things the way we say they should be done or are we willing to allow people to be themselves? Our aim in life shouldn’t be to make people become like us. Do we restrict or release others?
So what would you have done in my position?
I don’t have stroppy parent syndrome and so when I did speak to the teacher, we had a conversation rather than me having a go at her. I wanted to understand what it was all about but I also needed the teacher to know that my daughter was really discouraged about it all.
Most importantly though, I didn’t demand that fat bottoms be allowed.
You see, we need to keep things in perspective and to be honest this isn’t the most (or even close to being the most) important issue in the world. The teacher can’t choose to ignore the school handwriting scheme and so if I demand she changes things, it puts her in a no win situation. What really matter in this situation is that my daughter wasn’t being upset and discouraged and this is also the last thing that her teacher would want as well. If I was stroppy everyone would have ended up upset but through engaging constructively the result has been pointier bottoms and a daughter who isn’t coming home upset anymore.
Apparently the W’s are still fat bottomed sometimes, but don’t tell anyone!