I learned something this morning in the Pre-K class by accident. Or osmosis. Actually it was eavesdropping.
Every Friday. EVERY. FRIDAY. Is show-and-tell day.
I learned this by overhearing Graham's teacher ask another kid if she had something in her backpack for show and tell. The only things in Graham's backpack were lunch and a just-in-case change of clothes.
So bizarre that I didn't get the memo in the FIVE HUNDRED various pieces of paper we've received from the school over the course of the first few weeks. I read it all. Even the stuff that had absolutely no relevancy to the pre-Ks at all. Did it say anywhere anything about show and tell? No. Did it say anywhere anything about what the key code combination is for the pre-school door? Nope. Did it provide a parental outline the curriculum or objectives or strategies for what my child will be learning this year? Nah. Did it outline the hot lunch menu for the K-8th graders that indicated only two days of the month would be healthy lunch days? Well, yes.
Never mind the clear lack of communication skills on the school's part. And the disorganization around getting simple messages to parents. What I am most frustrated with is not that I did not know that Fridays are show and tell days. It's that EVERY FRIDAY IS SHOW-AND-TELL DAY.
Yes, I am a marketer. I have built a very meaningful career around getting people, mostly moms, to buy my clients' products. I love doing this. I am fascinated with the psychology of the consumer - most particularly moms and the power they (we) wield, and what they buy on behalf the household, including their children. I soak up data about why they are buying, where they are buying, and how they communicate with each other about those purchases. Those toys - the ones that my son's classmates brought today for show and tell? Somewhere out there, a marketer's objectives were assisted by the purchases of these toys.
Yes, I am a fan of American consumerism! I study and practice this art daily! I make a living on consumerism and I personally contribute part of that living to the American economy!
But my 4-year-old? I want to protect him from the want of things. My stomach turns with the idea that today at school he might think someone is better because they have a particular monster truck. Or the bigger Buzz Lightyear. Or this thing or that thing that he doesn't have. Things. To have. Or have not.
Who cares? My problem with this is that he doesn't know enough to not care. He cares. He loves toys. He is four. Jealousy? Materialism? These are unwelcome attributes in our house. But today at my son's school, they may be lurking. They may be hiding in the shadows of the classroom, just waiting for the opportunity to make themselves at home in his heart. The opportunity that may come at show-and-tell time. I can't stand the thought.
Why is show and tell still okay? Where is the teachable moment in this activity? I posed the question to the experts on Twitter. You know - the place where the experts congregate! @eCelebrating was optimistic with this response: "no idea. best bets: sharing, storytelling, taking turns, paying attention, learning about new items. ???"
I agree with the question marks. In my opinion, show and tell fosters unnecessary materialism in our youth. Four-year-olds don't need to learn public speaking by showing off their favorite toys and feeling badly that 'Johnny has this but I don't.' They need us to remind them about what really matters. Thoughts, not things. People, not products. Yes, this from a marketer.
I believe show and tell has no place in an educational class room.