From the Mouths of First Graders


On Thursday, February 16th, I went into a first grade classroom during my morning walks and found the students sitting on the carpet listening to a story about President’s Day. Interested in the story myself, I decided to join the students on the floor. Following the story-- and a few questions and comments from the kids-- the teacher asked the students the complete the following statement: "If I were president, I would..."

The students were given time to think, and I was much more interested in what the kids were thinking than what I would do as president myself. Once the students started sharing what they came up with, their words and ideas were both poetic and profound. I found myself desperately trying to capture their thinking on my iPad so I could share it with all of you, and that is exactly what I did… and remember, this is coming from first graders:

If I were president, I would…..

• teach kids how to write

• say "be nice to each other"

• clean the world

• teach kids how to ride tigers (who doesn’t want to ride a tiger?)

• help my mom and dad stop fighting

• help homeless people

• help people find jobs

• gives those in need food and clothes

• buy a homeless person a bed, apple tree, couch, blanket, and t.v.

• give the world shoes

• be nice to everyone (wow, now there’s an idea)

• recycle to help save mother earth

• buy everyone a purple fuzzy pony to ride to school (sounds like fun to me)

• make sure everyone goes to school

When I left the room I could not help but wonder, what happens to people after first grade? When do we stop believing those things that a first grader believes? How can we help sustain such beliefs as educators and parents?

We talk often about the need for learners to have 21st century skills in order to compete in such a global society, and I agree. However, in doing so, I do not want it to come at the risk of kids losing sight of the beliefs mentioned above.

I think all of us would have a hard time arguing that any of these ideas are wrong. I know I would vote for any of these kids! I hope you enjoy reading their thoughts as much as I enjoyed hearing them in person.


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