Positive ID

Brought a bunch of gourds to Elementary Art class. I love the variety and color of gourds. Even more, I love teaching children to notice that variety and color.

What's the same?

What's different?

Gourds teach color, pattern, shape, and texture. I just facilitate the lectures, like the person who makes sure the big electric coffee urn is gurgling at an early morning workshop.

The kids were having trouble with the idea of different. I don't know if each gourd in the cornucopia has a different fingerprint or DNA. I do know the kids are aware of tv cop show lingo:

  1. You witnessed a burglary. One of these gourds committed the crime. How will you describe the gourd perp to the police detectives?
  2. You are asked to go down to precinct headquarters to view a line-up. What distinguishing features will you look for?
  3. Please help the police artist create a sketch of the squashish criminal.
  4. Be sure to draw both the face and the profile.
  5. Which gourd looks like Harry Morgan on "Dragnet", and which looks like Art Carney on "The Honeymooners"? Okay, I didn't ask the kids, but I've always gotten these two confused. Harry Morgan was on "M.A.S.H." Carney was in "Harry and Tonto".

The kids got it. They started looking for each gourd's birthmarks and scars. They compared the weights, widths, and heights. They named each gourd. Their drawings improved. It was intriguing to find they automatically divided the gourds into presumed innocent or presumed guilty categories based on physical differences. Some thought the bumpy white gourd could never commit a crime. Others thought "Cauliflower" was a nefarious mastermind.

It wasn't elementary, my dear Watson, but I was grateful for this artistic trip down to precinct. We named our drawings "C.S.I.: Gourd Squad."

I was left wondering why I could instantly name the "Mod Squad" actress, Peggy Lipton, even though I never watched that late Sixties tv show.

I just finished reading Eleanor Updale's teen novel, Montmorency and the Assassins. Professor Cesare Lombroso is fictionalized in the book. Lombroso is considered the father of criminal anthropology, although his theories about the facial characteristics of "born criminals" are no longer accepted. You can't tell a criminal gourd just by looking at its face, but you can remember its identifying features!

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