Education of Children and the Arts
by Shona Hammond Boys
It is essential for children to engage in arts activities during their formative years. Educators must defend the childrens great and urgent necessity to create as a basic human right.
Often as educators, parents and citizens, we ask the child to choose between accuracy and interest, between technical skills and the child's nature. This frustrates children. Do we have this right?
The child's attention is aroused and sustained by interest, the child wants colour, imagination, movement, voice, life. The child has a unique personality and owns particular ideas. The child will work very hard for own ideas.
Signs and pictures are a language for a child. Scribbling is to drawing as much as babbling is to speech. Children produce what they know, not what they see, as we lead them to look closely at what they are seeing, they may not tell us what they know.
As high tech isolation grows, so an emptiness, a depersonalization and de-emotionalisation is occurring in the 21st century visual generation. Many children now see without involvement, without making and have never experienced the spontaneous joy through creative
inter -connectedness of hands, head and heart making.
This process is a vital balancing factor, for the two opposing forces-the spiritual demands of our human nature and the material wonders of technology. Because of our knowledge advancement the two great Gods of Arts and Science are out of heavenly alignment. Children tell us we are following the wrong God home.
As educators learn that technology will not solve all our problems nor liberate us from personal discipline or responsibility, then advocating for developing sensitivities and creativity will occur.
The Arts are the tool we use to translate our emotions. They not only record our civilizations history but reveal our future possibilities and are the energy force, the nucleus and at the cutting edge of all human transactions.
Children are supreme innovators. First they are creative, and only much later comes the grammar of techniques.
The child involved in the creative act needs to be taken seriously and granted love, security and significance.
The love component provides absolute security, allowing no hesitations, no uncertainties. It gives recognition and appreciation from an encouraging distance ,by a "learning Teacher" who provides a creative atmosphere and a space where children work/play and not notice the difference. The elements of magic, mystery, surprise, flow as a radiating component touching and revealing a human soul. Children work out their pain, frustrations, sensuality, and their dreams. Children prefer to be productive and given opportunity are rarely afraid of expressing themselves. By encouraging the creative rather than the imitative side we can help children catch an on- going love of the individual artistic pursuit as a life enhancer, for self-growth and fulfillment.
Without love, no work of art can be enjoyed or understood, Criticism is not enough. Intellect is not enough.
Very young children can not explain their creativity because they have not got the words.
As much as possible everything must be done by the children, for themselves.
Art is not a science, it is not cumulative. Children must interpret the world of their experience in their own way unimpeded by "proper" adult recipes or rigid systems.
Art Educators need tenacity to achieve the balance between negative passivity (through an anxiety not to impose) and vigorous dominant guidance (through a desire to conform to prescribed guidelines). No matter how many rules of thumb we hand down to our children the child needs to self interpret, in order to appreciate own beingship,in order to be peaceful. There is no substitute for self-attempt. Children are not here to do what has been done before; the main task of the teacher is to guide the child on its arts journey in life-the child's way.
Schoolrooms are recent in civilization and the individual can not so easily be catered for in today's systems. Large classrooms breed window dressing of the arts and 1 to 1 opportunities of personalized tutoring are hard to achieve. Counselors, health and social workers are on the increase in schools as art rooms close. Where is the opportunity to develop the emotional quotient? Art therapy for children youth and adults who have been denied access to art rooms is becoming increasingly advocated for by professionals concerned with the tensions of short term versus long term, modernity versus traditional, of generation gaps widening and of cultural globalization.
Taking art out of early school is not an option when planning a rich creative future. Wide spread marginalization of arts in education is occurring as timetables are drawn to emphasis computer literate graduating students. Our children are being programmed like techno toys. The Art Room represents the sacred house of childhood.
Taryn Hutt, aged nine years , after drawing people in zoo like cages, fed by animals at large says. "Everyone is asking us to put our art lives in the wings until we are adults. It is dangerous to us. We will not reach our full potential.