Tuesday, August 4, 2020
US flag

Boy drew lynching, has to take mental health exam

After completing a class assignment that required him to draw a picture depicting censorship, an 11-year-old Maryland student had to miss school for a psychological exam and sign a contract saying he wouldn’t attempt suicide, the Associated Press reports.

His teacher at Montgomery Village Middle School misinterpreted the drawing, which showed the lynching of a black man, with two Ku Klux Klan members and the words “Black Lives Matter” in the frame, and thought the student was feeling hopeless about life and might do something to harm himself.

Sade Green, identified as the boy’s mother, was said to be furious about the incident, after a teacher sent her son to a counselor, who then recommended the boy seek the advice of mental health professionals.

Editorial

As teachers, we need to encourage creativity in our students. That means we need to encourage self-expression, not inhibit it. The second this teacher recommended that a boy be evaluated for psychological disturbances or possible suicidal tendencies based on a piece of artistic expression, that boy’s creativity took a blow like it has never experienced before.

“Most five year olds are totally confident that they can draw, sing, and dance,” writes Marvin Bartel of Goshen College in Indiana. “Tragically, within three or four years this child, if she is typical, will experience a crisis of confidence. She will no longer feel competent or creative. As teachers, we are often partly to blame for the diminished inclination to be creative as children become socialized and aware of their own limitations.

“The world needs more and more compassionate creativity to solve difficult problems confronting us,” he continues. “Creative people do not have answers, but they habitually question the status quo and think about alternatives and improvements. … When combined with empathy and compassion, creativity is bound to be a force for good.”

It is time for adults, teachers included, to celebrate not only the creativity of students but also their unique and individual ways of expressing it. What this student did was powerful, even raw, and any teacher who makes an assignment that includes artistic expression ought to be better trained in evaluating that student work. However, if other aspects of the student’s life would indicate that he had suicidal tendencies, then such a review would be appropriate. Absent any other sign of suicidal tendencies, though, this knee-jerk reaction on the part of a Maryland teacher reflects badly on the training he or she received as an education professional.

Honor not only what students know but how they show it.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Voxitatis congratulates the COVID Class of 2020

2020 is unique and, for high school graduates, different from anything they've seen. Proms, spring sports, & many graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Time for something new.

Vertical addition (m3.nbt.2) math practice

3rd grade, numbers and operations in base 10, 2, 3-digit vertical addition practice problem

Rubber ducks (m3.oa.1) math practice

3rd grade, operational and algebraic thinking, 1, rubber ducky modeling practice problem

Distance learning begins as Covid-19 thrives

What we learn during & from coronavirus, a challenging & imminent crisis, will provide insights into so many aspects of our lives.

Calif. h.s. choir sings with social distancing

Performances with the assistance of technology can spread inspiration across the globe even as the coronavirus spreads illness and disease.

Families plan to stay healthy during closures

Although schools are doing what they can to keep students learning and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, that duty now shifts to parents.

Illinois temporarily closes all schools

IL schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through at least March 30. Schools in 18 states are now closed due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus closures & cancellations

Many schools are closed and sports tournaments cancelled across America during what the president called a national emergency: coronavirus.

Coronavirus closes schools in Seattle

The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges to cancel classes, and now Seattle Public Schools became the nation's first large district to cancel classes due to the virus.

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.