Mrs. Matherson walked up and down the aisles, students on her left and right, all coloring. The scene is reminiscent of a sweat shop factory, with the exception that the children here aren’t producing overpriced sneakers. No, these children were given the task of coloring in a farm scene and most were doing a fairly decent job, with the occasional magenta barn.
Suddenly Mrs. Matherson stopped and leaned over young Billy Fairbanks. Something was amiss. Billy appeared to be taking the task fairly seriously, back hunched over the desk, a green crayon gripped tightly between his fingers, but his drawing told a different story. Blue and red splotches were haphazardly placed on the paper. A brown line cut across it, beheading the smiling red cow and just barely missing the stout farmer that was collecting blue eggs.
“Billy, just what on earth are you doing?”
“I can see that. Don’t you think you should stay in the lines?”
“I don’t understand”
“Well, those lines are a sort of boundary that tell you that you shouldn’t cross over them.”
“Because, sweetie, the picture will look unorganized, chaotic. It’ll be a mess. And we don’t like to make messes now, do we?”
Billy frowned slightly.
“I guess not.”
“Its ok honey, I’ll just get you a new sheet and we-“
“What is the point of this exercise?”
“You are coloring in a farm scene.”
“Well, we are exercising your creative capabilities.”
“So we can color the farm any color we want?”
“But we are limited on where we can color?”
“How is this exercising creative capabilities if we are limited where we can color?”
“Its not limiting it, it just looks messy when they don’t follow the lines, out of order even.”
“So there is an order to creativity? Wont this have an adverse effect and instill in our minds the thought that in order to do good we need to stay within the boundaries? To play it safe?”
Suddenly Billy jumped up on his chair, crayons rolling off the table.
“This Is censorship! Plain and simple! Stifling creativity to achieve order!”
Other students started to perk their heads up, noticing the outburst. Mrs. Matherson looked around nervously.
“Billy, I think it would be best if you went back to coloring.”
“But doesn’t the concept of art and creativity in this modern era revolve around the idea of breaking boundaries? Of coloring outside the lines? Of going where nobody else has gone before? By teaching us the opposite you are only adding to an already brain dead generation of dim self obsessed automatons that as a society can function with ease but as a personal unit are unable to cope with concepts beyond their realm. They will never be able to form an original thought, watch an original movie, or listen to an original song and recognize that it is in fact original.”
“Billy, please settle down, Its just a coloring activity.”
“And what’s with Spongebob? Do adults seriously expect a flamboyant talking sponge is a good role model for children? What happened to quality television shows that forced us to think on our own?”
Other children started to nod in agreement. This was quickly getting out of hand. “I should have taught second grade”, Mrs. Matherson muttered under her breath as Billy Fairbanks continued his rant. Mrs. Matherson quickly looked around for a possible diversion.
“…Godless society that rejects perseverance and sacrifice for self indulgence and instant gratification.”
“Billy, if I make you line leader when its time for recess will you sit down and color in a new picture?”
“Cross my heart”
Billy slowly climbed down from the chair, picked up his crayons and sat down. Mrs. Matherson handed him a clean sheet of paper and quickly snatched the original one away.
The class fell into its usual semi-silence as children continued to color in their farms.
A girl sitting next to Billy leaned over and hissed “Sell out”, just loud enough for Billy to hear.
“You’re just jealous,” retorted Billy, “That Miss Matherson didn’t name you line leader.”
And, indeed, she was.