This week I read about Hilde Kate Lysiak, the journalist behind the Orange Street News. She’s nine years old, reports on news in her Pennsylvania community, and is currently getting her fifteen minutes of fame due to her coverage of a neighborhood murder (a scoop, by the way).
Some folks think it’s inappropriate for a child of her age to be reporting on such serious material. Seems to me that Lysiak is up to the task. I loved watching her rebut her critics, signing off with the defiant rhetorical question, “Is that cute enough for you?”
I also love that her 12-year-old sister filmed the video, and that the two work together on the Orange Street News. This reminds me of my own daughters and their younger days of collaborating on their own serious work, from living room puppet shows to Shakespeare productions.
It was no surprise to me to find out that Lysiak is homeschooled. According to the New York Times article, Lysiak’s parents “gave their daughters the freedom to pursue their passions under the theory that when they are engaged, they learn.”
While the debate over whether she is a “real” journalist rages on, Lysiak continues to focus on doing what she loves best–chasing news stories. Of the media whirlwhind she said, “I feel I’m getting the attention for my age, not my work.” Clearly, she’s no fool. Her work is what’s important to her, which is why the criticism doesn’t faze her and the celebrity doesn’t distract her.
The story brought home to me why another article I read recently, “Picasso was wrong. Your child is not an artist.” by Sebastian Smee bothered me. I see Smee’s point, but I think what he’s talking about is the fawning and empty praise adults so often lavish on kids. That’s quite different from the satisfaction kids can derive from doing real work they care about, whether it be reporting, creating art, or some other chosen pursuit.
In order for kids to be able to become passionate about and pursue real work, we adults have to support and believe in them, and give them the space and freedom to do it.