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Can he paint a lush Tahitian chick and just be done with it?

 
 
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 05:37 pm
I would love to hear from some teachers or others with experience in child raising/education especially in the area of art.

Mo is in kindergarten. Much of the day is spent on art type projects that reinforce what they are working on.

Cool! Yeah?

Uhhh... No.

Apples are green or red. Period.

Color inside the lines, please.

After spending the day volunteering in his class yesterday and seeing how frustrated he was I gave him a little "pep" talk that basically amounted to: sometimes you have to go along to get along.

Today he came home with his little apple coloring sheet - green and within the lines and quite frankly, my heart broke just a little bit.

Now I've been hit up to participate in the "art literacy" program. The first topic: Paul Gauguin. I made a little joke about teaching the kids to paint lush Tahitian chicks and I was met with dumbfounded looks and absolute silence.

I am trying to be a good kindergartener's mommy but I really don't get it.

There is some merit in the go along to get along philosophy - certainly it applies when one enters the work force - but I don't think this is the message I want to send to Mo at this point in his life.

Is there another way?

Please know that I am sincere in my asking and I thank you for your replies.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 5,120 • Replies: 114
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 05:48 pm
First, volunteering in class went well? I'd love to hear more about that, itself.

I've always planned on doing a whole lot of supplementing at home. There's nothing like letting a child's interests lead the way, and that's not always practical in a school setting (though the best schools and teachers find a way). We just did a whole intensive thing on solar eclipses -- started talking about them, she was interested, and we did a bunch of internet research and looked up how to make a viewer, which she wants to make just to make it even though there won't be a local eclipse (there will be one viewable from elsewhere in the world on September 22nd), etc., etc.

Anyway, long-winded way of saying, if you want to give him total artistic license, give him total artistic license... at home. You still have him for the vast majority of the day and are his main influence.

The "art" stuff that they're doing now is, as you say, more about reinforcing concepts than anything really instrinsically artistic/ creative. It's to get them to linger on the concept of A is for apple longer, or to introduce the idea of patterns (early math), etc.

Art as its own concept and own reward will likely come later, in a special class. But go hog-wild at home.

OK, re-reading, I dunno what's up with the "art literacy" program. It depends a lot on what their goals are, I guess. It seems from what you say that maybe it's about the basics of art -- color wheels, whatnot. I dunno. Could just be a bad program, too, in the "Baby Einstein" mold. Flash great artworks while they listen to Mozard and they'll get smart. Bleh.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 05:52 pm
Mozart.

By the way I think there could just be a social component here, too -- I'm definitely feeling my way with new parents I'm meeting, making jokes that get blank stares. As in, maybe their art instincts are fabulous but they didn't know if you were suggesting live nude models, or something.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 05:57 pm
I suspect it's that old "teach across the curriculum" approach. It sounds good in theory, but few educators know how to implement it in practice. A lot of parenting during the school age years consists of grin and bear it. You are still his primary teacher. While I don't condone dissing the teacher, it is going to be up to you to make sure Mo is allowed to spread his wings. School's not about individuality. It's a shame though.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:04 pm
So the go along to get along methodd is okay, huh?

We do, do a bunch of stuff at home. Bones and x-rays and innards have been the latest thing. Hacking up chickens together.... good times.

I know the exercises they are doing in school are not really about creativity but do they really have to be so literal? If Mo wants his apple to be brown is it really a problem? He did try to explain that his apple was rotten but that didn't seem good enough.

Volunteering in the class was actually pretty good. I really and truly do like his teacher. Mo seemed so proud to have me there and that made it seem so worth it. He was a little clingy and nutty but the teacher said he had a better day than usual so..... okay. I can do this. We'll see how it goes.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:07 pm
Well, you already know what I think. I'm for painting expressively outside any lines, and I'm also for learning how to color inside them. Look at my avatar, Woman with Burning Bicycle, that isn't drawn correctly.

So what I would watch for is the element of rigidity, re expression. One follows assignments, from kindergarden on.

As an adult, I was, as I think I mentioned once before, the personwhose contour drawing of her hand was held to as an example of how not to do it.

I didn't get a word the teacher said, in another class, about compositon. I totally get composition now, but not that week.

One of my assignments as an adult in Drawing Techniques class - now there's a title for what happened - first day the teacher emptied the trash can in the middle of the room and said 'draw that, you have five minutes'.
Anybody who was drawing within the lines would have been out to lunch.
It was a class to expand expression, get the gesture of the "mess".

My cousin tells a similar story, of the teacher bring in a whole bunch of pruning detritus and throwing it on a table and giving the class a short time.
Everybody but one guy did ok, and he freaked, as, y'know, he was trying to draw it in an illustrational way. He ended up being an excellent illustrator in real life.
But... there are some fine painters (and other modes) who are what some of us would call uptight.

Kids sort of do that expression thing naturally, and one doesn't want to kill that, only to try to draw it out from adults with their ability to express all tamped down, years later.

On the other hand, real expression, I think, flows from the nature of the object expressed about; there is gesture to the object, human or even a pot of flowers, there is intrisic gesture, related to understood gravity, or directional flow... Abstract painters make more leaps, maybe or maybe not in a given effort relating to an object.

I'd be interested in what Vivian would say about this.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:09 pm
Well, that's a painter's point of view, not a teacher's and not a person who has taught much art to children.
Vivian, on the other hand, is a wonderful painter who has children of her own, if I remember right.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:11 pm
Great!

I don't think it has to be so literal, no. At my elementary school, "it's rotten" would've been perfectly acceptable, and that's how I am as a teacher, too. The only exception I can think of is if it was specifically about following directions, which is an important skill. As in "first write your name at the top, then color the apple red, then write the letter 'A'". If the goals of the lesson were both A=apple association and following directions.

If.
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:12 pm
boomer, my sister and I used to play a game of drawing called "Suggesting". One of us would suggest something, and then we would draw what we saw in our heads. Why not do the same with Mo. Suggest something of Tahiti that may come to your mind, then ask him to color what he sees in his mind. If the project has to do with art, that would be very creative, and I don't believe that his teacher could quarrel with that idea. You talk with his teacher as well. She sounds as though she could use some tips herself.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:14 pm
One more thought -
I'm a painter and a landscape designer. I think, and have gone on and on about sometime before, maybe on another website, that the heart of those 'endeavors' is ..... play.

But to play, one needs some elements to play with, about, and against.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:20 pm
Ah, I see the enthusiastically posting osso is skipping letters and whole syllables to get her point across...
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:31 pm
You could also think of it as learning to play by the rules before learning how to break them. Picasso did wonderful classical drawings and paintings before becoming what we think of as Picasso. I do think they should have let the rotten apple thing go - Mo had a valid idea that was within the realm of the lessons.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:32 pm
Very interesting replies. Thank you all so much.

Yes! Osso! Yes! One does need to learn the rules in order to break them. Yes!

And "Suggesting", <sigh> , what a great game to play. Wow.

And yes! Following rules is dead important.

And I think that ALL of this is what is making me a bit heart sick.

Like I said, I really like his teacher. She has 24 kids for 2 1/2 hours and half of these kids speak just a little english so following the rules is really important - she doesn't have time for "it's rotten" or anything else. I admire the job she is doing.

But like Swimpy says .... it's a shame that it can't be more about individuality. At what point does "education" completely smother creativity and curiosity? At what point does learning become a drag? When did that become it's purpose?

THIS is what I feel happening - learning is becoming a drag. I don't blame his teacher but this can't be allowed to happen.

I hate myself for buying Mo a coloring book today and I hate myself for asking him to demonstrate that he could color within the lines and I hate the fact that he did it just to please me and I hate that there is this insane measuring up/comparison baloney that seems to be happening to me.

I keep telling Mo that I loved school and I did love school but school is not the same anymore and it breaks my heart.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 06:39 pm
Yeh, GreenWitch said it more succinctly!

I just wish teachers would add, somehow, that this is one way to color, not the only way; well, probably not in kindergarden, but maybe by second or third grade, with the occasional slide show.
My memory of my short time in kindergarden was freely expressive finger paint stuff - well, kindergarden was probably different in 1946 than now.

Would that there were more of an arts budget...



Some teachers may not have art experience themselves. Not to knock them, as I'm a fool in several fields, but to use diplomacy as you give them, if that is the case, new information.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:15 pm
boomerang wrote:
At what point does "education" completely smother creativity and curiosity? At what point does learning become a drag? When did that become it's purpose?


I think it happens when parents give up the education of their kids to the school. The learning that goes on in the classroom is only one part of the educational experience. I agree with Greenwitch in that there are skills that kids need to master before they can begin breaking the rules. they have to learn to write. They need motor skills to do that. Coloring inside the lines teaches that, just don't call it art. Too much of that makes learning a drag.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:26 pm
Standards.

Standards standards no child left behind stupid **** standards.

Even in kindergarten, a whole lot depends on kids passing certain tests. The school's very existence, for starters. So the teachers have to "teach to the test" even in kindergarten, and in a half-day class especially, that's a lot to cram in. Less time for rotten apples, since the test will mark it "wrong."

This was what killed me when I was becoming a teacher -- I hate that crap, I like to be able to foster individuality and creativity and go hither and yon and meanwhile have the kids LEARN a whole lot... That's all really incompatible with the insane level of super-important testing that happens.

Good schools and good teachers find a way around it. My elementary school is still around and still doing its thing, and sozlet's school is impressing the heck out of me so far.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:26 pm
I absolutely hate that sort of art instruction. Every time my son asked me, "What color should I use for the tree?" I'd say, "What do you think the tree feels like today?" We had purple trees, red trees, blue trees, even a black one (it didn't like where it was growing.)

I only ran into one teacher who had the "color the apple red or green" approach. I had a conference with her and explained how important it was to me that we not squelch his creativity. She explained that the drawing in question was not part of their "art period," but part of a different subject (I think it was math.) She said coloring just reinforces the fact they want the child to learn. During "art" time, they are allowed plenty of freedom.

Well, that sort of satisfied me, but not entirely. So I signed him up for summer art classes at the art museum near us. Much better.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:41 pm
Well, you all have more experience than I. I don't get the gnashing that Mo is asked to do as instructed at the kindergarden level. I do get that red for an apple is a mentioned option, but of course don't see it as a rule. Personally, I wouldn't have them ruled for colors, or rewarded for colors. I can see discussing them with someone like my niece when she was five. Besides expressiveness.... purple apples... apples do now come in varied colors, even if one is being realistic.

Green Witch and I agree so far, maybe we'll differ as we talk more.

I also agree that what I've read about the teaching to the test stuff sucks.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:44 pm
All right, teachers here. What are you taught to teach for art in various grades?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Sep, 2006 07:46 pm
I have K-12 certification but was never (that I remember..?) taught to teach art specifically. I think that might be part of the whole thing, in fact, as I mentioned in my first post. Art teachers are taught to teach art. Teacher-teachers are taught to use various media to reinforce a concept. Different things.
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