Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bring in a baby picture

Bring in a baby picture so we can guess who everyone is!

Sounds like fun right?
  • Did Sally always have a mess of curls or is she the bald baby?
  • Look at what that kid is wearing! I'm glad my mom didn't dress me in Winnie the Pooh stuff.
  • Who's that goofy kid covered in strained carrots? It can't be neat and tidy Julie can it?
A simple project meant to be used for fun, maybe an ice breaker game to help kids get to know each other.
But consider what some of the other kids are thinking:
  • I'm the only Chinese kid in the class. Not to hard to guess which one is me.
  • I wish I had Winnie the Pooh clothes. All I had was that worn out sleeper from some foster family I stayed with.
  • I don't have any pictures of me till I'm 5. No one cared enough about me to take pictures till then.
Not so much fun anymore is it?

As far as school activities go, there aren't any lessons involved from this one. No one is learning anything. It's only purpose is to have fun and get to know each other. So why do teachers bother with it? One thing we hear over and over again from teachers is that they've been doing this project for years, everyone loves it and no one has ever had a problem with it. The undertone of that statement is that you, the lone complainee, are the one at fault. Well you aren't!

Just because people, especially kids, aren't speaking up against something, it doesn't mean that they don't have a problem with it. I've known an adoptee who has gone as far as using a baby picture that came with a picture frame for this exercise just so he wouldn't have to tell anyone that he was adopted and why he didn't have a picture. And no one was the wiser. People see what you tell them. By the end of the day everyone could see his eyes and ears and expression in this random kid of the shelf of the corner store.

Part of my advocating this week is to help teachers think outside the box and for them to advocate for the kids in their class. Look at activities before hand and think of potential pitfalls. Really think about the purpose of the activity and what you want to get out of it. How can you make it open ended? (in this case have kids cut a picture out of a magazine that meant something to them when they were younger and see if people can guess which one belongs to people based on what you know about them today)

Unfortunately this activity doesn't end with grade school. Year books, prom nights, work functions, volunteer dinners. People seem to keep coming back to this one. There are so many other great meet-n-greet activities out there, that we all just need to help people steer away from this one.

How have you handled the baby picture project?

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