National Crayon Day….Two Thoughts

Two points among many possible points to be made.

First, the kid who created the above image,Trent Shelton, is right. Broken crayons still work. Even if the world (personal and larger) is broken, we can still navigate forward, especially if we get help. The idea of Japanese Kintsugi pottery comes to mind: More beautiful for being broken.

So when kid’s crayons break and they get upset; let them know it is ok. And not just today on National Crayon Day.

Point Two: We often tell young children to color inside the lines. And, we use that to develop eye-hand coordination. So we are actively discouraging coloring outside the lines. And, there is that well-known book about everything you need to know about life you learned in Kindergarten. It messages: Color inside the lines.

I beg to differ. We need to color outside the lines, especially now. Our would is changing; what has been drawn before no longer works. We need to be bold and creative in a world filled with fissures — from COVID and discrimination and a host of other atrocities like war and riots and shootings and suicides.

In a time of trauma, we need to color OUTSIDE the lines. So, take your crayons and color with joy and creativity and do it outside any set lines or set shapes. Be free to draw whatever matches your mood or mindset. Grow new neural pathways. Expand horizons. Adjust to things being outside the proverbial box.

And for the record, even when I tried as a kid, I could never color within the lines perfectly. I always had colors skip outside. My friend Gail always got it perfectly. I wish someone had told me it was OK to have color outside the lines. It might even be good or better than staying within the lines.

So join me outside the lines on National Crayon day to help make the world better through novel creations and solutions and approaches. We need crayons to draw new lines. Consider a student assignment: see those lines on that image; color outside and through them and see what appears!

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Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor

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Karen Gross

Karen Gross

Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor

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