Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Don't be silly, dear, birds don't look like that..."

Setting: an elementary classroom

Teacher:  Ok kids, your assignment is to draw a bird. It doesn't have to be a real one: you can use your imagination, but it should look like it might exist around here. Try not to get too wild with the details. Please color it neatly. You'll have about 45 minutes to work. Let me know when you're finished.

(students draw and color intently, focusing on their work in a way that real children never do)

As time ticks by, students begin to finish their bird pictures and raise their hands for the teacher to come and collect their work. At the last desk, she looks at the picture being handed in with dismay.

Teacher: Oh dear. I don't think you understood the instructions. We're trying to draw a bird that's realistic. This picture is gorgeous, but you and I both know that there aren't any birds in this area that are colored like that.

Student: But--

Teacher: It looks like you went wild with your new marker set. Did you just get that for your birthday?

Student: But there was one outside my--

Teacher: I'll hang this up because it's a lovely picture, but you'll need to do another one that isn't quite so gaudy. You might see a bird like this in the rainforest, but certainly not here in this part of Texas.


  1. HA! That is fantastic.

  2. Spot on, as usual, Joy. And what a little beauty.

  3. Aren't those painted buntings gorgeous? I have yet to see one in real life, but I long to. It's easy to imagine a teacher making that comment, given how unusual and colorful the bunting is. But still, let kids be creative, too -- regardless!

  4. Joy, did this really happen???

    Your picture really shows off this amazingly colorful bird. My recent pics didn't do it justice.

  5. Amber, the scene isn't real. WE've just always said that those buntings look like some kid got ahold of a bird template and went crazy with some markers.

  6. well it's one of the most multi coloured birds I have ever seen I could not have painted it better myself :)

  7. one always looks for nicely colored birds somewhere else - but they are everywhere!

  8. dreamfalcon, you're so right. Whatever is right under our noses is too common to pay attention to.