Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Missing Limbs, Empty Boxes

Zoe's class did a project about family in their Religion workbooks yesterday.  They were to fill out a family tree form -- mother's side, father's side.  And then there were boxes in which they were asked to put traits they had inherited from their parents.  Great.  THIS again.

Zoe filled out the mother's side of the family tree, and left the father's side blank. She showed her tree to the boy sitting next to her, and complained to him that her family tree was dull since she didn't have a dad.  He was puzzled:  "You don't have a dad?"  Nope.  He didn't get it:  "How can you not have a dad?!"  Zoe didn't really explain it, saying, "I just don't."

Then Zoe went to talk to her teacher, asking what she should do about the boxes for inherited traits, since "I wasn't born from my mom."  Now, this is something her teacher knows, that Zoe's adopted.  How could he not know, right, since she's Chinese and I'm not?!  He told her to fill in the boxes based on "ancestors she knows."  I think he might have been trying to tell her to fill it in based on her adopted family, but I'm not sure.  Zoe didn't take it that way, explaining that she didn't know anything about her ancestors.  Next her teacher told her to just "do what you know."  Zoe left the boxes blank, since what she knows about her biological family is nothing.

Why do schools keep having these projects????  This one isn't even a science lesson, isn't really teaching genetics or biological inheritance!  It's RELIGION, for God's sake!!!!  And of course there's no warning for the parents that this is coming up, no way to give the teacher a head's up that maybe this project is problematic for adopted kids who have no information about their biological parents. Like they need a head's up to avoid projects that make any child in the classroom feel excluded, abnormal, less than.

Did it bother Zoe?  She says no, but I don't believe her.  The first thing she did after school yesterday?  She pulled out a big piece of paper and markers, and made an elaborate family tree, including every relative she could think of, including her birth parents.  And she filled the entire page with family and color and design.  No more dull family tree for her.  No more missing limbs. No more empty boxes.


Dee said...

Oh dear. I am so there with you and Zoe! WHY do schools have to keep doing these family assignments in such an insensitive, exclusionary way?? It's not like there isn't material and information out there about how to adapt assignments to be broader and more inclusive, while still addressing the same objectives.

At my kid's school, I've found that rather than being willing to adapt assignments, they're of the mindset that my kid can just adapt herself to the assignment, difficult feelings and all. Are you going to discuss anything w/your DD's teacher and/or the school's administration? If so, maybe you could let us (readers) know how it goes.

It sounds like Zoe was able to come home and work out some stuff with her after school family tree. Good for her!

JBH said...

Ugh. Can't believe this was in a religion class...what was the point of thinking about what traits were inherited from their parents? People tell me that I smile and laugh like my (adoptive) mom...does that count?

Since I discovered the "family wheel" and the "multiple houses" models of representing family, there's no going back to a "tree" for me! I'll post the wheel on my blog.

Let us know if you have a discussion with the teacher:-)