Friday, March 21, 2008

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear"

I am sure I can probably do this memory...

"Brown bear, Brown bear
What do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me.

Red bird, Red bird,
What do you see?
I see a yellow duck looking at me.

Yellow duck, Yellow duck,
What do you see?"

You get the gist. Every animal is classified by "color" and "being."

Until you get to the White teacher. And then she is just "Teacher." Similarly, the multi-colored children on the following page are just "children." Spence starts to giggle right when the White teacher shows her goofy face and doesn't stop until the children are gone.

Perhaps he gets the joke. Bill Martin and Eric Carle are attempting to socialize little Spence to the impossible. There is no color-blind society. Whites often pretend that the world is colorblind, as if that is possible or even desirable. We point out the people of color as if white is not a color.

So when I get to the bespeckled teacher, I modify.

"White teacher, White teacher,
What do you see?"


mrotzie said...

Henry always smiles when we get to the teacher, too, but Mike thinks it's because, with the big glasses, the teacher looks like me. Except I think the teacher is supposed to be genderless.

Incidentally, the Panda Bear Panda Bear version has no teacher or children, just one dreaming child.

mrotzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrotzie said...

I deleted my long rambling comment because it was creeping me out that I was thinking THAT much about a freaking board book.

Still think the teacher's gender ambiguous, though.

XO, have fun in Mexico!

Emily said...

It seems a flaw in the whole design to suddenly stop categorizing by color. I think Eric Carle gets more praise than he's due. Thanks for a new take on Brown Bear.

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