I am so encouraged lately! I took on this job with a plan that I believed would enable children to be more artistic and enthusiastic about art, but I had never taught art in a school setting. I didn’t KNOW that it would; I just believed in it. In teaching, and with art especially, you want to see that students are actually absorbing what you teach in such a way that they can apply it elsewhere. Really, my philosophy in art ed is to equip and empower children to express themselves visually. Sometimes it may not look like I am doing that, because my lessons may use guided drawings, a required subject or method, or very rarely, tracers or templates. Some art ed philosophies support just turning children loose to explore. I want to turn children loose within certain parameters, a fenced field as it were, to explore. And I want to train them in the use of their tools of exploration. It has been my experience that children begin to grow discouraged with their art skills somewhere around 3-5th grades. My hope is to avoid as much of that as possible, and retain and feed their enthusiasm for creating and creativity within a semi-formal art program.
This week leads me to believe I AM on the right track! I guided the first and second grades through an oil pastel of a baby penguin (all neutrals and simple shapes), first observation, then drawing.
Then I turned them loose with photos of a variety of adult penguins and told them to pick one to observe and draw. I had been told that the baby penguin drawing has shown up in chalk at recess and in free times during class, which is wonderful, of course. But I get most excited when I hear our earlier lesson on horizon line is showing up in other landscape drawings for class! And this week I got to see them take off with their own skills! Every penguin was set outdoors in a suitable environment with a horizon line, and almost every penguin is uniquely identifiable. They have come SO FAR! I am proud of them, but especially excited at how excited THEY are to find that they can look at something and reproduce it in their own way!
PLEASE check out my students’ awesome penguins at Artsonia!
Oddly enough, that sense of validation came in very handy this morning at our library’s new Kid Lit Book Club for grown-ups. We were discussing Patricia Polacco, one of my many fav children’s book authors. They showed a little video she made discussing her life and home and philosophy and such, and one of her comments was about NOT inflicting formal art programs on children. I just thought to myself, “I guess it depends on the formal art program. And on the little art student.” My kids love discovering that they can make their own colors. Or in the case of primaries, that they can’t. They were excited to realize that the sky meets the ground, and they could show that in their pictures. Almost none of them feels restricted, but rather freed! We don’t make it a bunch of rules, but rather a quest of discovery. I am loving teaching art!