Adam Hayes and The Washington Post Have Some Lessons from 3rd Graders
Kids notice everything. Their brains are little sponges, absorbing the behavior of the adults that surround them, picking up on the cues from witnessing social interactions, and taking on everything else they see. As witnesses who are still digesting “the way things work” without the egos and the socially ascribed intellectual status, sometimes their own interpretations of impossible issues are closer to wisdom than anything the adults in the room have been able to come up with. Recognizing this, The Washington Post Magazine brought together a bunch of 3rd Graders from the Washington DC area and asked them about a host of issues. Their responses were compiled in the latest issue of Washington Post Magazine, and the publication invited Adam Hayes to design their cover and a few alternate compositions.
The illustration with typography featuring the title of the piece, ‘The World According to Washington’s Third-Graders,’ is presented in no fewer than four combinations of colors and layouts. In each other them the effect is the same: this is a conversation with kids. They’re made up to look like the decorations in a classroom, but it raises the question who is teaching who? The way these kids think about the world is unanimously simpler than the way adults think about it, but often that simplicity is the part that we forgot, that’s the aspect that trips us up.
Adam’s illustration plays with that dichotomy, giving us the opportunity to see both sides, while having an element of subversion. Because of the youthful scholastic nature of the illustration we almost expect the conversation to be shallow, but with questions about the 2016 election, racism, climate change, and much more, the topics plumb deeper. It’s almost an implicit bait and switch, but in the best service: education.