What our children see
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 31, 2019 - 12:00am

In the 1980s, some schoolchildren from an urban exclusive private school as well as from an urban poor community were asked to draw their home and community.

The privileged children used the bright colors of the rainbow for their drawing. The urban poor children drew their homes/communities mostly in black, gray, and brown.

Did the color choices of children reflect their view of their world then? From the eyes of the poor children, did they see the darkness of their surroundings, the dirt and filthiness as well? Did the black reflect the lack or absence of light in their homes, the brown color of muddy streets, and the gray color of dirty canals?

Were they illustrating a world similar to that captured by Rogelio Sicat’s Impeng Negro, a half-black, half-Filipino boy who struggled past bullies and condescension in their urban poor community?

Did the bright rainbow colors the rich schoolchildren choose reflect their world of privilege and choice like the world of the prince different from that of the pauper?

If the same exercise were done today, we wonder how our Filipino children, rich and poor, will color their worlds. Will the revealing contrast still remain? Will the children of the rich still choose the bright rainbow colors to draw their world? Will the children of the poor still use black, brown, and gray?

Will children coming from the wealthy and the poor use the same colors in the rural and urban areas, we also wonder.

Will the children’s choices of color be a clue adults should seriously follow up to check the effects throughout their lives of what they see, how they see the world at various stages of their young lives?

It would also be interesting if teachers in our various schools ask schoolchildren to describe or draw what they do, from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they sleep at night. Aside from an interest in what colors they will select or what words they will use, such an exercise may show the various environments our children move in daily.

Will their drawings/descriptions show smiles and laughing faces? Will they capture whether their surroundings are clean and protective of people? Will the exercise show us our present community and environment from the eyes of the children? Will the children show a healthy world, with fruit trees, flowers, birds, and insects?

Will our rural children have more of nature’s abundance in their drawings than their urban counterparts? Will some children show the bodies of waters they see before them?

Or will those who live in or who pass through dumpsites and landfills show instead the dirt, mosquitoes, insects, and the smoky mountain pile of garbage they see daily? How many of them will draw or describe near or empty plates on their floors or makeshift tables inside their tiny, crowded, unstable homes?

Tom Krause’s Children's Eyes asks: “What kind of world is it that little children see? I wonder if they see God first because they just believe? Do they see strength in caring eyes who watch them as they play or maybe love through gentle hands that guide them? Do children dream of future times or just enjoy their present life? And when the day is over - as they close their eyes to sleep, do children look forward to tomorrow with its promises to keep?”

Do our children see a wonderful world before them or the opposite? Will adults see what our children see and create a better world for our children’s eyes to see?

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