Thursday, January 28, 2010

Get 'em Outta the Gene Pool

You know your kid is in second grade when he comes home asking about his ancestors. Even in this PC-world, though, missteps happen along the way.

Take, for example, his assignment last week, which was to make a doll -- no, not an anatomically correct one -- and dress it in his ancestors' attire. Accompanying the doll was a worksheet that asked all about where his ancestors hailed from before coming to America.

I don't know where you live, but where I live, it's not at all surprising to find students whose parents are the first generation to come to America or, nearly as likely, to have first-generation Americans among the kids. In Youngest's class of 20 kids, I know of three kids whose parents emigrated from India, another kid whose parents emigrated from China, another whose mother is from the Philippines, still another with a mother from Northern Europe and still another -- my own kid -- whose father is from England.

So why are we all pretending that the kids are genetically linked to the Mayflower?

Let's ask about ancestory and all that. But let's not frame it in the context of ancestors coming to America. [There, see, I am a liberal. Hah!]

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Along far less serious lines is when Youngest asks -- just as his brother and sister before him asked -- for information about those who came before him, before me, before my parents. Pete talks of warriors and football coaches. I talk of alcoholics and manic-depressives and shipbuilders (who were alcoholics) and broken families and losers and hasbeens and never-weres.

At least my kids won't need to live under the burden of being a Kennedy or someone like that. Of course, now that I think about it, I think the Kennedys had quite a few alcoholics and manic-depressives and broken families and losers and hasbeens and never-weres.

[Photo courtesy 'Cause it's the first tree I found.]


Tara R. said...

You're right, those class assignments would be much more interesting if limited to just family history and not focused on immigrating to the US.

Jomama said...

2 comments in one today:

1) After doing the usual ancestry project in 2nd grade, for some reason my son's 3rd grade teacher assigned one AGAIN this year, with the required doll. Stern notes about letting the child make it her/himself accompanied the project. After a VERY frustrating hour trying to teach my 8-year old boy child how to glue felt and clothespin into a facsimile of a Korean hanbok, we gave up. I dismissed him, sewed it up myself, and we turned it in. The grade? "At grade level". Glad to know at 44 that I can achieve what is expected for a 3rd grader!

2) As for your points about ancestry--agreed. We are not all from the Mayflower. This hearkening back through the generations reminds me of typical conversations with grocery clerks in the not-so-multi-culti East Coast and Midwest: "Where are you from?" Tired of these, I always told people I was born in the East Coast. "But where are your parents from?" Canada and Ireland. Puzzled but unfazed, they would continue to probe, "But where are your grandparents from..." trying to figure out what flavor of Asian I was.

CrAzY Working Mom said...

We've not had any projects like this. But, we're only in the 1st grade. I don't know my family history. So, I guess we can always make one up! *LOL*


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