I am a big fan of square pegs. The kids who simply don’t fit into the round hole of public schools. I can spot them on the first day of school and hone in on them immediately to let them know that in our room, they fit perfectly because my class starts off as a square hole. It is often times that the kids that feel the most uncomfortable are the round pegs. The ones who have shaped themselves into a perfect circle to fit perfectly into the round school system that has been whittling them down for the past 8 years. Within about four months I can look out into the class and see pegs of all shapes and sizes. It is beautiful. When we stop and look at what we have accomplished and produced and we see pegs and holes of all sizes. Everyone fits in somewhere.
The following poem can be found all over the internet. It has been attributed to anonymous, and I have seen it published in a book that claims it was written by a 14 year old who committed suicide shortly after writing it. No matter the source, it is a sobering reminder to make sure that we should be committed to providing an environment in our classroom that allows all students to succeed. I do not mean by creating the typical IEP, or by typical differentiation, modifications, and accommodations that are usually made in an attempt to change the shape of the student so that they can fit into a black hole of a learning environment. What would happen if instead of forcing the kids to change shapes, we changed the “hole” to fit them?
Does your classroom have room for more than one type of peg?
Can your classroom handle having more than one hole?
As you read the following poem, please ask yourself how you handle the “square peg” students that show up in your classroom each year…
He always wanted to explain things, but no one cared,
So he drew.
Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up in the sky and it would be only the sky and things inside him that needed saying.
And it was after that he drew the picture,
It was a beautiful picture. He kept it under his pillow and would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark and his eyes were closed, he could see it still.
And it was all of him and he loved it.
When he started school he brought it with him,
Not to show anyone, but just to have with him like a friend.
It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown room, like all the other rooms,
And it was tight and close, and stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, with his arm stiff and
his feet flat on the floor, stiff, with the teacher watching
The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys,
he said he didn’t like them and she said it didn’t matter.
After that he drew. And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about the morning. And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him. “What’s this?” she said.
“Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?
Isn’t it beautiful?”
After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
airplanes and rocket-ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay all alone looking at the sky, it was big and blue, and all of everything, but he wasn’t anymore.
He was square and brown inside and his hands were stiff.
And he was like everyone else. All the things inside him that needed saying didn’t need it anymore.
It had stopped pushing. It was crushed.
Like everything else.