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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Problem with Cute

At a staff meeting today we were discussing the idea of daily documentation and our director challenged everyone to try it.  Some of the staff were unsure of how much time this would take and what it would look like.

I've been doing daily documentation for a bit so I brought one to share with the group.  I was hoping to use my example as a catalyst for conversation and collaboration.  

What I got instead was the response "yeah, it's cute" from a colleague.

                                 This is the problem with cute.

I was hoping for genuine feedback.  Acknowledgement of the work that I had done.  Even critics.  

         What I got was a brush off.

As dejected and angry as I was with this response, it really made me reflect on my ongoing dislike of the word "cute" in relation to children and their work.

Telling a child that the work they do is "cute" is sending them a brush off.  It's telling them that their work is not valued.  That it's not worth being looked at closely and given a thoughtful remark.  

When we use the word "cute" to talk about children we are sending a dangerous message.  We are telling them their ideas are not what we value, that instead we value their physical appearance.  By placing an emphasis on cuteness we diminish all that make children wonderful, including their flaws and "badness".  When children hear adults tell other children that they are "so cute", they begin to internalize cuteness as something to be desired.  What does this do to our buoyant, busy, exasperating, but still amazing children?  

So let's stop giving children the brush off and stop using "cute".