Weekly feature by: Kyle Heger

What’s the harm in giving these first
graders science lessons that refer to
“people and animals,” “birds and animals”
and “fish and animals” as if somehow
people and birds and fish aren’t animals?
Kids this age aren’t exactly ready for a
goddamn lesson in taxonomy, so let’s
let it slide in the name of developmental
appropriateness. It’s part of the curriculum,
approved by committee after committee,
so why raise a fuss at this point in the

Seven-year olds won’t complain if the
rhythm to which this poet has been
religiously hewing for the first 13 pages
of a picture book as if it were important,
loses contact with his muse and lets
himself skip a few beats here and there
at the end of the book. Or if many of his
rhymes are near misses at best or accomplish
their ends only by “rhyming” two identical
suffixes, or even two identical words.
After all, he’s a Newbery award winner,
and I’m certainly not going to risk my
professional standing by asking if the
emperor is wearing clothes.

So we start them off with a few myths
passed off as history, some science
made obsolete by years of research
and theorizing, a bunch of ham-fisted
certainties instead of subtle ambiguities.
Who’s to complain? It’s just too hard to be
truthful and accurate. And anyway, they’ll
forget all this stuff in a year or two, so
there’s no harm, no foul. Besides, they’ll
have the rest of their lives to straighten out
all the details. For now, they’re just kids.

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