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Is Mrs. Hays to Blame for All This?


You see here a picture of a homunculus painting the stripes down the back of a frog. I first saw this picture as a framed print hanging on the back wall in Mrs.Hays' third grade classroom at Coggin Elementary School. I was nine and ten years old that school year, and I believe something profound and a little strange happened to me that year. According to developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, age ten falls within the period when a child experiences a "crisis of industry vs. inferiority," the resolution of which determines their competency. Erikson identifies eight crises at different age ranges from birth through adulthood. The competency crisis is the fourth of them.

In third grade, I had a tumor removed from my arm, and I discovered it was more comfortable for me be scorekeeper during recess than to take a turn at bat or play a position on the softball team. In other words, I discovered a certain comfort in taking a position of inferiority. And Irving R. Bacon's painting, "The Little Old Man of the Woods," attracted me and impressed itself on my memory, even though I had to turn around at my desk in order to look at it hanging on the wall in Mrs. Hays' classroom.

© Jerry Stubblefield. Return to top of page.
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