It is likely, said the superintendent, the child saw a swastika on TV or in the newspaper since the images have been common in the last few weeks. “They are watching TV and seeing stacks of newspapers, and seeing these images, and not fully understanding what they mean. I don’t think it was malicious; kids in fifth grade don’t fully understand some of these things. Great teachers can take something like this and make it a teachable moment.”
Here is the Facebook post that initiated so much discussion:
I can't stop thinking about this.
We live in Atlanta and love our public school and our community. Her teacher turned it into a teaching moment as great teachers do, but I am heartbroken. My daughter decided to pick flowers from our struggling little garden to take to her teacher today. I know individual acts of kindness are good and that love is bigger than hate, but I am searching for a way to make a positive impact that is meaningful. Desperate for a solution that is a big enough answer for the many problems at hand.
Raising a child to be kind and loving is certainly a big response, but I'm restless. In the last few months we've had a lot of big conversations at our house: the birds and the bees, girls before boys, my daughter being asked out on a date by another 10-year-old girl, but I really didn't see the swastika on the planter coming. We talk openly about world events with my daughter but a swastika used as a symbol of fear and hate as no place in a 5th grade classroom.
The incident at Mary Lin provides a learning experience for students, who, coincidentally, are now in the midst of "No Place for Hate" week at their school. The elementary school student who drew the swastika likely did so out of ignorance, not hate.
Either way, it merits correction.
I have faith that 10-year-olds will be open to what the school tries to teach them about the potency of symbols and the danger of following blindly. Legendary AJC journalist Celestine Sibley wrote a famous column that there is no better human being than a 10-year-old boy; I would extend her observations to 10-year-olds in general. They are curious, open and not yet jaded.
Hate is a learned behavior. It can be unlearned as well.