Poetry Friday: “More Than a Number” — a song for children by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Barry Lane

Hello, friends!

This was a tough couple of weeks for me trying to meet a deadline, so something had to give. And though I was disheartened not to post another poem this week, I was immediately cheered by the fact that my friend and fellow poet, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, had completed the video for her song “More Than a Number.” Amy wrote the lyrics, while music and voice are provided by Barry Lane. I know Amy is sharing this at her blog The Poem Farm, but the message bears repeating, plus it’s just a really lovely song!

I think anyone with children in the public school system can identify with the sentiments expressed herein. The song says it best, so I’ll just hand it over to the video.

Oh, and of course I am honored that my little guys could be a part of it “nel loro piccolo,” as they say in Italy. Look for the field of red poppies. 🙂

“More Than a Number”

(Can’t see the video? REFRESH your screen or watch it on YouTube here!) 

More Than a Number

Music by Barry Lane & Lyrics by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (2012) 

I am quiet in the classroom.
I don’t always raise my hand.
I don’t always answer questions.
I don’t always understand.
But I always have ideas
when I stare up at the sky.
My sister likes to tease me
for always asking, “Why?”

I am more than a number.
I am more than a grade.
I know the constellations.
Here’s a painting that I made.
I read books in my closet.
I will not be a ‘2’.
I am more than a number.
I’m a person just like you.

I speak one language here
and another in my home.
I daydream in both languages
whenever I’m alone.
I’m good at climbing trees.
Mom’s teaching me to sew.
I am full of secrets
a test can never know.

I am more than a number.
Watch me fold this plane.
I snuggle with my beagle.
There’s music in my brain.
Someday I’ll go to Egypt.
I will never be a ‘2’.
I am more than a number.
I’m a person just like you.

If you think I can be measured
by numbers on a screen…
…if my whole school becomes a test
where will I learn to dream?
I love to do hard problems.
I write stories, and I laugh.
My gifts are so much greater
than the data on your graph.

I’m more than a number.
I invent things when I play.
I collect shells and fossils.
Please hear me when I say
I will not be a ‘1’–
a ‘2’, a ‘3’, or a ‘4’.
I am me. I’m a mystery.
I’m a child – not a score.

Cover art by Georgia VanDerwater (2005), copyright 2012


[heading style=”1″]Tune in on Monday…[/heading]

 …when I’m back to regular programming with guest poet

Jim Hill

See more poems in my poetry video library.

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  1. Oh, Renee! Thank you for your generous words here. Your boys are beautiful and your heart is large. Much gratitude to you for your support throughout this dear-to-my-heart project. Happy Poetry Friday! xo, a.

  2. Amy, what a beautiful song!! As a mother and teacher, I am so frustrated with the “teach to the test” and “data driven” mentality! It reminds me of a sign a read yesterday: Children need to be taught WHAT to think, not HOW to think!

    Renee, your boys are adorable!!

  3. Wonderfully put, Amy. So much unnecessary anxiety is created in children and parents through testing at all ages. Let them be!

  4. SUCH an important message. Wonderful job, Amy and Barry, and thanks for getting it out there, Renee. The question is, how do we get it into the heads of legistalors, politicians, administrators, and the rest of the non-educators who dictate policy?! Question of the century! Ugh.

  5. I shared it around, too Renee, Facebook & Twitter. I hope others do keep sharing the message about children-so important. Renee, I saw those poppies-lovely children, and lovely field!

  6. Loved the song the first time I heard it, and these kids in the slide show steal the show! (Yep, especially those adorable boys in the poppies…) Thanks for sharing! And, again, well done to Amy and Barry.

  7. What a wonderful treat! I’ve saved this for my first day of school…and how marvelous are those last lines:
    I am me. I’m a mystery.
    I’m a child – not a score.
    Thank you for sharing this, Renee!

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