As I’ve mentioned here, some Park Slope momfriends and I are working on starting a preschool co-op. A while ago we met with this lovely woman Peggy Reimann, who consults with parents who homeschool or are looking for other education options for their kids. As one of the other moms said, the meeting made the preschool co-op feel real, like something that can actually happen. I certainly hope so, because while I love the idea I sometimes still feel like we’re bluffing. What do I know about early childhood education? Um…you should let them play and have lots of books and art supplies and stuff around? And stuff like playing in sand and water is good for motor skills or something? And you try to teach them about sitting in chairs? Ah ha! Wouldn’t you like to have me teaching your preschool?
Peggy suggested that all of us moms get together to discuss what we want the experience to be like for our kids and to talk about what in our own early educations we had positive associations with. I immediately thought of Mrs Bacarella, my kindergarten teacher whom I obsessively loved. As far as I can recall, her class was perfect, the classroom its own little wonderful world, and she was the smartest, nicest, most ravishingly beautiful person in the entire world. I assume this was all true. Most importantly, she always seemed somehow playful. Every morning all the children would crowd behind the toy store stand, very sneakily I’m sure, and leap out at her when she arrived in the room, and every morning she acted surprised. It has only recently occurred to me that maybe she wasn’t really. She dressed up as a giant crayon for Halloween, and told an awesome story about her son swallowing his own tooth, and had excellent art supply selections including magenta crayons which apparently was new to us because it was very, very thrilling.
Ok, so I guess I don’t really remember much about what I actually learned in her class, but I do know that the tiny wisps of memory I have of kindergarten feel lovely and fun and exciting in a way that school soon was not. Which is probably to be expected. I mean, we don’t want the school system to churn out creative thinking types, now do we? I mean, you can’t very well live in your imagination all through elementary school and then the rest of school and then maybe imagining-and-creating-graduate-school and then life and then sit around making stuff up and writing it down and expecting people to buy your books now can you?
Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes — so thank you, wherever you are, the perfect Mrs. Bacarella, whose very name still sounds like a wonderful song to me, for being so, well, playful.