Developed by
Dr. Judith M. Newman

English Quarterly

Like Grandmother

Judith M. Newman

I discovered engagement
In my grandmother's kitchen
Her body supporting my four year-old frame
Helping me shape bagels
And knead bread
For the whole family to eat.
I discovered engagement
On my grandmother's sofa
Her deft hands helping mine
Ply a crochet hook
Weaving garments for my dolls.
I discovered engagement
By my grandmother's side
Teaching her to spell
While she helped me
Become a woman.
My engagement brought
Independence and community
Wonder and responsibility.

But where's that engagement in school?
"First ya gotta control 'em,"
That's what I hear.
"They won't do anything unless ya make 'em."
So it's no lockers between class,
No trips to the bathroom (even if you're sick).
It's late slips and detentions
And in-school suspension.
There's no working together, no adventure
Or excitement at learning something new.
"If it's aversive enough," I hear,
"They'll comply."
But compliance brings
Dependence and hostility
Resistance and rebellion.

I try so hard to be like my grandmother
Offering invitations to wonder and explore
But the confining walls we impose on kids
Serve only to alienate.
My grandmother knew something we have forgotten
We must welcome them warmly into our adult world.

Dr. Judith M. Newman is an education consultant in Halifax, NS.

[ EQ Index ]