I’ve had a little something on my mind lately. OK, for years.
I have had the pleasure to run after school art classes for quite a few years now. Subjects I have developed classes for include cartooning, painting, fine art, animation, and drawing. Now, some children come to these classes already loving art, and others come with no real artistic leaning at all. I love ’em both! They always end up doing well regardless of how they begin.
What always surprises me though is the BAGGAGE they bring!
The kids who have had formal art classes before are often “afraid” of making mistakes. The kids who are new to art are afraid to try, or fear being “bad at it.” I always nip these fears in the bud- in my classes, there is NO right and wrong in terms of the end product, and the kids quickly learn to not worry and have fun. But time after time, I find that I must undo these insecurities.
Why? Well, I have a couple of theories- for one, art has been turned into this:
“Arts and Crafts” like these are not exactly harmful ,and are maybe better than nothing, but they do NOTHING to foster actual creativity in kids. They are too spelled out, pre-fab, and defined. The kid doesn’t have to DO anything here- the shapes are cut, the arrangement is pre-determined, the colors have been chosen for them, etc. If you want children to work on their motor skills, these are swell- but so is putting together a puzzle, or setting the table.
But wait! Here are some fine alternatives to those kinds of things!
These are open-ended items that foster TRUE creativity! Open-ended is good. Kids should NOT have everything spelled out for them in an instruction book. If that’s all they have to go by, they positively flounder when asked to come up with their own ideas and methods. I know most of the people reading this blog are creative types, but if you see yourself in any way here, fill your house with supplies (they don’t have to be expensive, dollar store stuff works fine). Real supplies and a dose of encouragement can keep a kid busy and happy forever.
Don’t even get me started about the demise of the toy business and playtime in general…another post for later.