*Names have been changed!*
It was about 1:20 PM on a Tuesday afternoon. The students in Mrs. Lumberg's class were cleaning up their inside recess materials and were preparing to get ready for the day's independent reading block. Mrs. Lumberg called her small group to the reading table while the rest of the class chose their books and settled down to read. As she began the afternoon small group lesson, two curious boys approached her with a new and mysterious library book.
"Ummmaahhhh, Mrs. Lumberg?" said Wally, as he shoved a picture of a Pakistani refugee bus in her face, "Carl says this is a hippie bus because it's in Africa."
"Welllll," replied their teacher, wondering which "wrong" to address first, "First of all, it's not in Africa, it's in Pakistan. It says so right here in the caption. After we finish talking, you and Carl need to go look at an Atlas and, at the end of your reading time, you need to tell me where Pakistan is actually located." She paused to look inquisitively at Carl. "Now Carl, what is a hippie, exactly?" She loved playing the fool because she knew that when misconceptions like this arose, something funny was sure to follow.
"You know," said Carl with a shrug, "A long-haired guy who drives a painted bus."
"Nuh-uh!" Darren chimed in from the reading table, "Everyone knows a hippie is a vegetarian!"
"No!" shouted Charity, "I was a hippie for Halloween," she bragged. "A hippie is someone who wears clothes from the 80's and loves flowers."
Mrs. Lumberg let this new information settle in her brain for just a moment while the entire class roared with discussion, one kid shouting over the next, claiming that they really knew what a hippie was. Finally she proclaimed, "Alright, everyone! Let's try this. Everyone get a post-it and write down what you think a hippie is. You don't have to do it if you don't want to, but I'm very interested in hearing what you have to say."
Most kids enthusiatically leaped for the post-it bin and began to furiously write their response. Some disinterested youngsters began their independent reading. As students handed Mrs. Lumberg their thoughts, she read through them and held back tears of laughter:
"A hippie is someone who wears a bandanna and little circle glasses."
"A person who loves flowers and makes the peace sign."
"Someone from the oldies with long hair and bell bottoms."
And her personal favorite: "A freak who sings yodel lay he, yodel lay he, yodel lay he hooo!"
It was clear that the students needed a lesson on sterotypes, labels and decade recognition. Lucky for Mrs. Lumberg, she gets to teach these same kids again tomorrow!