Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Support of Giggly, Wiggly Lines

I've been listening this week to teachers of young children and watching them wince as they describe school orientations that insist upon correct procedures and regimens for talking, walking, and living in school. I was powerfully reminded of Georgia Heard's amazing poem...

Straight Lines

All the kindergartners
walk to recess and back
in a perfectly straight line
no words between them.
They must stifle their small voices,
their laughter, they must
stop the little skip in their walk,
they must not dance or hop
or run or exclaim.
They must line up
at the water fountain
straight, and in perfect form,
like the brick wall behind them.
One of their own given the job
of informer--guard of quiet,
soldier of stillness.
If they talk
or make a sound
they will lose their stars.
Little soldiers marching to and from
their hair sweaty
from escaping dinosaurs
their hearts full of loving the world
and all they want to do
is shout it out
at the top of their lungs.
When they walk back to class
they must quietly
fold their pretends into pockets,
must dam the river of words,
ones they're just learning
new words that hold the power
to light the skies, and if they don't
a star is taken away.
One star
by one star
until night grows dark and heavy
while they learn to think carefully
before skipping,
before making a wish.
--Georgia Heard

Here's wishing little children and their teachers a little wiggle room as they march single-file into new school years.


  1. That is a sad but beautiful poem. I enjoyed kinderchat tonight. Your book looks so needed in our schools. I just had my Kindergarten book published. I'm researching play now and will be blogging about it in the future. Children really need a dedicated advocate like you to keep the power of play alive.

  2. Love this poem so much. We try to make as much wiggle room as possible in our day - my "line" loves to jump back and forth over a small drainage ditch on our way to recess. It makes me so happy to see how much fun they have weaving and hopping back and forth on our way to play. Looking forward to your book!