In the new millennium, we offer our children better toys than we had. These toys are made to stimulate the mind, to make this generation smarter than we were. With advanced graphics and colors, with advanced sound technology, children are captivated by games that heighten their critical thinking skills and their problem solving abilities.
I am convinced these arguments are valid, and thus, sometimes I forget about the old toys that challenge the imagination, the toys that bring forth the creative mind, the toys that allow children of any age to express their individuality.
Today I was reminded.
My first period seniors had a class meeting this morning and by the time they returned to the classroom, we only had ten minutes left in the period. I really didn’t have enough time to execute the learning activity I had planned for the day.
I thought, I like these people. Why not just sit and chat for ten minutes? Soon they will leave me, and they will never look back.
I felt an ambiguous pang in my stomach. For a year, I have nurtured their growth, and I have gotten to know them as individuals; yet, they have frustrated me as of late because Senioritis kicked in over a month ago. In spite of their exasperating attitudes, I really have grown to like my students as people, and I felt like I needed to spend ten minutes with them in adult camaraderie, not in the role of teacher.
In the midst of chatting and hearing about prom, I realized that some of the boys were at the chalkboard drawing. One young man caught my eye, and I think he expected me to yell and tell him to stop. But I didn’t. I said nothing. I just watched. Maybe feeling like he was getting away with something, he eagerly returned to his artwork.
These boys were having pure, unadulterated fun. They drew and erased and drew again. They sketched, stepped back, and critiqued their masterpieces.
They laughed, and it was honest and pure.
I had an epiphany. No one is ever too old to play with chalk!
Each of these kids has a plan for next year: college, military, work. Nonetheless, today, the future was just that, the future. In the present, they were just kids having fun. In the present, they were the same kids who chalked in the schoolyard, the same kids who chalked in the driveway.
It reminded me that youth is not fleeting. The adolescent-self will emerge whenever it is given the opportunity.
Chalk is probably one of the oldest toys known to man, but I argue, it has probably brought more joy to every generation, including this one, than any so-called modern toy. It allows the individual to be a Van Gogh or a Matisse.
We are all artists with a piece of chalk in our hands!