Not exactly a little teapot

by | Nov 6, 2008 | Henry | 10 comments

Yeah, so what exactly am I supposed to do about this, if anything? Doesn’t this seem a little, oh, I don’t know, 1963? And do the teachers see any irony in the fact that they had the kids do this on the same day our country elected the first African American president? Were they thinking, “Well, we’d better make sure people still remember what our old stereotypes were, the ones we are RIGHT THIS SECOND breaking down!” At least the Indian isn’t saying “How!” and trading his squaw for wampum. I’m guessing this was part of some countdown to Thanksgiving. I do like that Henry drew a modern Indian, with a baseball hat and orange pants. And why a giant sticker of a Rosemary Wells raccoon is appropriate on this, I have no idea.

Let’s hope they didn’t have a little dance to go with this song.


  1. Anne

    Ack! I think this is definitely worth bringing up with the teacher. Not only for the obvious datedness and stereotypes, but also for the random capitalization of On, Go, and Buffalos; the use of “Here” instead of “Hear” in the second-to-last-line; and the poor punctuation throughout. What a mess!

    Maybe the teacher thought the raccoon was a bear. A bear blissfully unaware that he’s about to get thwonked by an arrow.

  2. Beth

    This is just plain weird all the way around. But what are you going to say to the teacher? “Um, excuse me, but your kindergarten curriculum is a tad, well, racist.” Or you could go for the, “My husband is half Cherokee and he found this offensive.” Or maybe, “What would Sherman Alexei say?”

    On another note, I was at Storyland a few years ago in NH. While waiting in line, I looked up at their old illustration of the park, with all the rides that used to be there. One of them was the Little Black Sambo ride!!! (Some weird thing with a caricature of a black boy (Sambo, I guess) at the top of it and tiger swings that moved around a pole/tree. Argh.) They tore the ride down — in the ’80s, mind you — but it’s commemorated nostalgically on their poster.

    Lord help us.

  3. Julie

    Oh good grief, I didn’t even notice the misspelling. I think I’ll lead with that, and with the random capitalization. Then I might add in the political incorrectness at the end, because I honestly don’t know the context in which this was presented, and maybe I’ll give her half the benefit of the doubt and just say, “Also, this whole thing seems a bit dated” and see what she says.

    Typically, I’m actually much more offended by a misspelling than by stereotypical characterizations of Indians (though that too is clearly offensive). But if they’re trying to teach these kids to read and write, doesn’t it make sense to only present them with perfect examples?

  4. Clog

    As much as I agree with you that this is bad (and I even missed the Here vs. Hear that Anne pointed out), you will go crazy if you bring up every little thing that offends you and will also become known as the mother who makes a fuss all the time.
    You can understand more and more why parents home school.

  5. Julie

    I might actually want to be known as the mother who makes a fuss. I want the teacher to feel like she’s going to have to answer to someone. She’s not my friend, she’s teaching my son. I want her to look over stupid little worksheets and think, “I’d better make sure this is all spelled correctly; I don’t want Julie on my back about this.”

  6. Anne

    At work, we get more badly-written mail from teachers than you can comfortably imagine. I would definitely be on a teacher’s case about that. If you’re teaching my kid to read and write, you had darn well better be able to do it brilliantly and perfectly yourself.

    [Deleted preaching-to-the-choir rant about attracting high-quality candidates to the profession]

  7. Clog

    Maybe you should say “I have a blog you might be interested in reading”.

  8. Elizabeth

    Oh man. I also missed the misspelling on the first read. Upon rereading, I thought that perhaps “here” was the intended word, suggesting that Native Americans cannot tell the difference between subject and object pronouns and speak in a sort of primitive “grunt-speak”, a la Tarzan. When I was teaching seventh grade English, I gave students extra credit for bringing in things with spelling or grammatical errors. This soon became a problem with some teachers at my school, however, when students began to bring in other teachers’ worksheets and handouts! This was their largest source of material! Sad, but true. Oddly, after reading your post this morning, I dropped off Isaac at his very PC Waldorf preschool and another little boy was dancing around, hitting his open mouth with his palm and making THAT sound. Isaac said, “What are you doing?” He replied, “Being an Indian.” The teacher quickly changed the subject.

  9. Julie

    My new lesson for the day is to not try to confront the teacher about this at pickup time. She was (understandably) kind of frazzled, and likely not ready for parent complaints. She did express mild horror at the misspelling (as well as good-natured bafflement in the form of, “How did that happen?”). I threw in something about, “Not to mention the un-PC quality of the subject matter…” and she said, “Well, I’m an Indian, and I’m not offended.” I do believe her about that. But I also think the whole cafeteria pickup scene was way too chaotic for any kind of meaningful conversation about it. When I have more complaints (as I’m sure I will) I’ll email them to give her a proper place to respond.

  10. Emily

    good idea. a teacher cannot hear anything, cannot do anything else, when there are students around she has to take care of. we really can’t…she’s just going to be “on” and in that mode until all kids are gone and accounted for. I’m all over talking it out with her, by the way, it will be satisfying for you both, and better than having some wierd mutually-suspicious detante….


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