Daily Archives: March 15, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

Celebrity Blog? Not this one.

C-List Blogger

According to Are You an A-List Bloglebrity?, “To be an A-List Celebrity in Hollywood, it’s all about the amount of Vanity Fair, GQ, and People Magazine covers you can score. To be an A-List Bloglebrity on the Internet, it’s all about the amount of link love you can score.” Since my model for this blog is more The New Yorker than People Magazine I’m fine with my C-List status. And thrilled as I am whenever someone links here, I am not going to make shout-outs and other blog mentions a priority with the hope that by doing so I’ll move to the B-List.

You see, that all feels way too much like the issues of exclusion and inclusion that I deal with daily in my fourth grade classroom. My kids are hyper aware of who is popular and who is not. And hyper aware of what the popular kids do and whether or not they are part of it. Is Poetry Friday that different (no offense folks —after all, I’ve joined in a few times) from a group deciding to wear blue tee-shirts on Fridays and some kids don’t because they haven’t any or weren’t informed to do so? Are shout-outs so different from my popular students mentioning their friends in their stories? Are those all important links so different than my kids dropping mentions of events outside of school? (“Oh, I forgot that everyone wasn’t invited to that birthday party.”) Or taking charge of a particular recess activity? (“But they can start their own game. No one is stopping them. Ours is too big for more to play with us.”) Or starting a club for endangered animals which turns out to have only the popular kids in it (“but anyone can ask to join”)? These are just some of the ways the “popular” kids make themselves celebrities in the school world, the equivalent, if you will, of magazine covers. Helping these highly confident kids become aware of the fine line between what it is to be a good friend, to be an intense part of one group while also part of the larger classroom community, and to otherwise see how their actions may make others feel left out is a huge part of my work as a teacher.

And it doesn’t end in fourth grade, but keeps going on all our lives. I’ve written about this before and here I do again. Over and over in my school, in the blogging world, in the children’s literature world, and elsewhere I see adults doing the same including and excluding that my fourth graders do. We write, read, and promote books that are suppose to help kids to think and not do this, yet we do it ourselves all the time. And what I see in the highly-valued community of blogging is another form of this. I don’t have a problem with it at all. What I do have a problem with is that no one seems to see it. That it is the elephant in the room. Can’t those of us so concerned about this in our writing, in our work at least acknowledge that we are doing this too? Do we think much about how those not in this world feel? Or those on the edge of it?

Can we talk about the elephant?

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