What really bothered me about these two little girls was their provocative clothes and dance routine. I'm not a huge fan of midriff-baring spaghetti strap tanks and miniskirts even on teens but these were prepubescent children! And the sexualized routine just struck me as icky. Just because the Laker Girls dance like that does not mean kindergarten-age cheerleaders should, KWIM?
Miss Scarlet was fascinated, however. It struck me that if she were enrolled in a traditional school, this is what she might be learning at recess from her classmates.
I was reminded of this incident when I read a depressing article in the Rethinking Schools journal entitled "Six, Going on Sixteen". It was written by a veteran elementary schoolteacher who currently teaches a combined K/1 class. Here is what she describes happening in her classroom:
"I had 5-year-old girls vying for the attention of the 'coolest' 1st-grade boy. They would push to be near him at the sand table, and groan audibly if I didn't place them in his book group. Students in the class thought of each other as 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend.' Freeze dance and soul train, which are usually a big hit and lots of fun, had a new dimension as students danced out the social scenarios they had seen in music videos. Performer Chris Brown was the ultimate favorite, though 50 Cent and others were also on the scene. My 5-, 6-, and 7-year-olds played out and talked about 'being in the club' and 'drinking Heineken.' They wrote about the music world in their journals and turned the block area into a radio station. Sometimes they used the hollow blocks to build a stage to perform on. Small cylindrical blocks were their microphones. This type of play was OK with me, except who was 'in' and who was 'out' was a constant social battle.These types of narratives just reinforce our decision to homeschool. The homeschooled kids of my acquaintance don't exhibit this type of pseudosophistication. The little girls dress their age rather than looking like mini-streetwalkers. If there's dancing, it's typically something like the Hokey Pokey or ballet.
There was another aspect of this that negatively impacted our classroom community, and that was the idea of certain kids wearing the 'right' sneakers. This was among a group of boys, but the rest of the class was affected. It was something we had class meetings about, and tried to minimize the negative effects of, but it was a continuous struggle. One morning, as they walked up the stairs to our second-floor classroom, a kindergarten boy and a 1st-grade boy got in a pushing and hitting fight because the younger boy said he was wearing 'Carmelo Anthonys' and the older boy said, 'No, those are Jordans.' Another boy, whose mom refused to buy expensive sneakers, had repeated meltdowns (crying, throwing things, yelling) when other boys arrived at school with new sneakers, stylish shirts or outfits, or big plastic gold rings."