February 25, 2007

Teaching about Peter Pan

Perspectives:  University of Illinois Misses A Teachable Moment On The MascotThe librarian at my children's elementary school saw such an opportunity three years ago, when my son came home from school and excitedly announced that he was going to play an Indian in a performance of Peter Pan. He handed me a list of items needed for the role--war paint, squaw's wig, tomahawk and a peace pipe, among others.

It could have ended there, but our librarian seized the moment and called the drama kids together to explain why Peter Pan was dropped. She talked about honoring other people's cultures and traditions by not making fun of them. She explained that when something you do or say hurts someone, you should stop. "You know the great thing about getting an education?" she said. "When we educate ourselves we can understand things better, and when we understand, we can change."

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