Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Art Class

Tuesday night was Meet the Teacher night.  Not only did we get to learn all about what Teagan's day is like at school (when she eats lunch, how the teacher manages the classroom, etc)... but we took a peek in the art room. 

Art is one of Teagan's favorite special classes.  She's always loved art projects and she really likes this teacher. 

I think I'm a little bit inspired.   I've never been an artist.  I've tried and been interested but it simply isn't a talent I have.  Anything artistic coming form me is going to be about the passion and emotion and not about how it looks. 

But I figured my art could hang with 1st graders, right?

Then I saw this...

I think I might be in trouble with my art career dreams. 

Trust me- if I don't use letters to make my birds, they aren't going to be at all recognizable as an animal species!

Well, I can handle no birds in my pictures.

Uh oh...

You want me to draw limbs and branches and leaves or something??  Oh, crap.  Fine, I just won't draw trees.

I have a great love of the sky so I'll just stick to...


I am a writer.  So I can always express myself with words, right? 


Maybe I should go with bigger pictures where the detail isn't as important?

No floating objects.  Well, there goes that plan. 

Guess I'll just stick with the barest of basics in drawing...


Guess I'll just stick to blogging.



mimbles said...

Um. What? I'll give you a no no for art class, no telling kids they're doing it wrong and killing off any inclination they might have had to put pencil or paintbrush to paper :-( Teach technique by all means, but in a positive manner. Liz, I'd find this really upsetting to see in a kids' art room, were other parents bothered by it?

Mellodee said...

>>>Mimbles, Absolutely spot on!! This is grammar school, without those types of figures and methods of getting an idea across, no kid I ever knew would ever make a picture at all!! What about free expression, coloring outside the lines, and exploring imagination. You've got to start somewhere and a whole board of "no-nos" sure isn't the way to go!

(No, I'm not talking about the kids with the "art" gene! They are practically born knowing how to do the basics.)

So unless that board is in a high school or college classroom, it's really pretty disturbing.

Expats Again said...

Oh boy, as a retired English and Art teacher I also find this disturbing. Children your daughter's age do not need to have their creativity crushed before they even begin to draw for an audience. Mimbies is absolutely correct. I find this horrifying.

Mel said...

Mim sent me to your post! I cannot believe this - having taught kids art classes myself I often found myself explaining to parents that we let them create what they want to and it might not be like your expectation of what art is but we tell them nothing is wrong,that everything they create is right. Maybe I should go and have a talk with this 'teacher'?

Eternal Lizdom said...

To be fair, the teacher was not there to explain it.

I mentioned it to Teagan this morning and she smiled about it. We didn't talk about it since we were in the midst of getting dressed. But if it was something she felt was squashing her artistic inklings, she'd have said something.

Personally... I kinda like it.

As someone without art talent, I think I'd have enjoyed being taught methods and such and not being expected to only draw like a little kid all the time. Maybe if someone had actually taught me how to create on paper a more realistic interpretation of what I was seeing, I'd have a bit of talent to lean on from time to time.

I've told my choir kids that I intend to teach them more about singing and performing so that they can give a performance that people really love and not that people like simply because cute kids are singing.

I see this the same way. When you're free drawing and coloring, do whatever you want. But this art class isn't about taking time to just sit and draw and color. This is about learning some actual techniques and about artists.

Trust me- based on the work we've seen being done so far, there isn't some expectation that these kids are a bunch of Van Gogh's or Picasso's!

I really like this teacher (so far) and Teagan loves her and loves art class.

Garret said...

That was hilarious. Just hand in a blank sheet of paper and name it something abstract like "white noise".

Alison said...

Horrible! Even at college level, we were taught to correct in a positive way. The idea of a teacher taking so much time to focus on the word "NO!" with young kids in a class aimed at creatvity has my gut clenched.

I would bring this up quietly with an administrator, asking what kind of message they think this is giving the children.

You know what this is? It's competitiveness trickling all the way down into elementary art class. Americans aren't allowed to do anything for fun anymore--sports, drawing, video games--it's all about being the BEST, NUMBER ONE, TOP SCORER. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

That kinda irritates the crap out of me--and not just because that's how *I* draw all those things. I totally agree with the previous comments about that (while brightly colored and attractive) negative board being in the art classroom. Telling kids not to use capital letters in the middle of words--OkAy. Telling kids how they shouldn't draw--nOt oKAy. Art is about being creative, and I know for a fact if you (well, I mean the teacher) were to tell my kid that she can't draw her people as stick figures, she would probably have a meltdown later at home because now she's stressed out about how the hell she's gonna draw her people.

I get what the teacher is saying--she's trying to get them to expand their artistic ability. Good message, bad delivery.

KarrieFaBuLoUs said...

Perhaps said teacher forgot an important "no-no" of art. Please color in the same direction while shading in things. Her shading is all wonky on everything and that's more distracting than the things she's pointing out. HMPH!

Dowitch said...

Wow. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the response people have to this bulletin board, but I am.

1) It's one small part of a class. We have no idea how it's used within that class.

2) We know Teagan likes this teacher and likes art class, so I'm inclined to believe that she feels encouraged in her love of art and in her ability to create.

3) If the board were all that was used to teach art to children, then BOO! As a part of a larger program that challenges children to move beyond the easy symbolism that they were taught by their traditionally non-artistic parents/elders and into ownership of tools that will enable them to communicate with art, YEA!

I grew up knowing that I "wasn't artistic". I didn't get any kind of teaching about things like perspective and shading until I was in the 8th grade. No one ever told me that my art was bad -- I could see it for myself. By the time anyone took pains to start teaching me the tools, it was too late to impact that self-image, and my attitude made me difficult to teach. I think if someone had started earlier, as they did with music, then I would have had a much different attitude, and a much larger skill set.

I guess it comes down to the difference between encouraging and teaching. You encourage that which comes from within -- creativity, honesty, kindness. You teach skills and knowledge -- art, music, consequences. Personally, I think the two go hand-in-hand.

Jessica said...

But, but, but...sometimes clouds DO look blue! Or pink, or purple. They aren't always white. And sometimes birds DO look like letters in the sky! And while we're at it, why those rules and not others? (How about: "Thou shalt not make thy mountains look like sawblades"?) Her teacher may be a very nice person, but all of those no's really rub me the wrong way.

Alison said...

Wow, that bulletin board really hit a nerve, huh? Liz, your comment didn't pop up 'til I'd already composed mine, and I did think about Teagan liking the class and teacher...so yeah, I can accept the message the teacher's putting out there.

Still, at such an early age, how much art theory and skill is essential? I don't remember learning about perspective 'til 7th grade.

I think it's the delivery that bugs me. A simple change to "We can do better!" would come across as more encouraging and less "chiding." Same message, positive spin. That's all. And if it doesn't faze Teagan, that's great. But what about other, more timid, kids?

Michelle said...

Any principal I've ever worked for would have had that display down in a hurry. What a terrible way to encourage children. Wait, it's not encouraging AT ALL. If I would have seen that in my child's school, you betcha I would have either found the art teacher or the principal. Absolutely not appropriate. Imagine it being used in English, math, etc.

KPCL Girl said...

Liz, I didn't read through all the comments, but I laughed and laughed at your photos of the bulletin board. I'm not an art teacher, but I'm married to one (and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), but I would hope that the teacher, before putting these guidelines up, talked about each concept in a positive way to the class.

My husband is not here to ask, but I have heard him use the phrase 'learning to see'. Learning to see--that trees are NOT round, and the sun does NOT have a smiley face on it (have you ever seen the clip of Sam Kinison as a pre-school teacher on SNL?), that objects don't float and birds are not letters. Perhaps, it's trying to move the kids beyond 'rushed' artwork and into a more thoughtful piece. I know Teagan is REALLY young and perhaps a 'thoughtful piece' is a bit out of her grasp at this time. ;-)

I know that during the drama camp, when I was seeking kid-art for our show posters, I would never let them put words in the picture because they were so often misspelled, they run out of room and the letters get scrunched on the page, etc., etc. I always told them I would put the words in on the computer.

The photo I went back to look for as I type this would be the one where the blue sky is just a wide band at the top of the page, then a lot of white, and then the green horizon line beneath it. That's my husband's pet peeve--that the sky does not end halfway up in the air above the ground.

Chuckle. Hopefully the teacher is gentle with her guidance. Really enjoyed this blog entry.

KPCL Girl said...

Ah, I finally did read through the comments and was saddened to the point of tears by the vehemence aimed at the teacher...

Just reinforcing the lesson that I learned in 19 years as an IPS teacher--that teachers are the scapegoats, the punching bag, the dog sh*t on the shoes of society. So sad....

Jeff said...

When I saw the board I saw it as an example of what everyone teaches young kids to do to make art. Just do it easily and move on.

I think its there as an axample for the kids to actually see what they are drawing. I didn't understand art and perspective for drawing until I was in a hospital bed and actually took the time to see what was around me. That's when I finally "saw" what makes up "things" and how they relate to each other. If Teagan gets a 16 year headstart on me I'm all for it. I have tried to explain these same things to Liz, but as she said she can't quite get it in her head now. I'm all for it and I don't see a problem with it.

I laughed last night and also wished someone would have shown me that when I was young.

Jessica - I also commented that clouds can be blue, but I understood the point.

mimbles said...

Oh dear, I didn't intend to start off a massive pile-on, and I certainly don't come from an "all teachers are the enemy" perspective. It was clear from the tone of the post that Teagan wasn't bothered by the no-no board and that's great, but kids are all different and what one kid takes in their stride can stop another in their tracks.

Being the traumatised parent of a child who would refused to do a simple piece of maths homework because he didn't believe his drawing skills were up to the task of drawing 3 people or animals or some such thing unquestionably colours my reactions. (The solution was explicit permission to use stick figures, the idea that he couldn't do that having been entirely self-imposed.) I know that in first grade if David had been confronted with a list of don'ts like that, however gently presented, he'd have been paralysed by it.

Garret said...

OK this post deserves another comment. It's so interesting to see 2 very completely different takes on this. Some are offended and others appreciative of it.

I can agree with all opinions in this. It's a curse, I'm indecisive.

Liz's Mom said...

KPCL Girl--Why is this an attack on teachers? A teacher put it up in her classroom. No one is commenting on any other teachers.

A lot of the "NO-NOs" are age appropriate drawings for young students.

Jeff, it may be funny for adults but not for young students who use the techniques. It's funny for us because we know other techniques and have broad background experiences with other drawings. Children don't have this experience and are being told their drawings are not good before they even start.

I am struck by the number of art teachers who have voiced their concerns over the bulletin board.

Kristi said...

I have mixed feelings on this. I am a teacher in a school where we are taught to use positive disciple techniques, and to encourage students to be individuals, etc. So I can see the art teachers point. But I guess I don't like the message it sends either. can kids draw better than that? Sure! But many can't draw much at all, so they should be encouraged to do their personal best. I like the "You can do better" or maybe "Can you do better?" method. Encourage creativity but don't stifle it. Maybe we don't k ow how she uses the bulletin board, she sounds like a wonderful teacher. But I do think she could have chosen better words for her board. I will have to show our art teacher and see what she thinks.

Karen M. Peterson said...

Maybe the teacher does have a good reason for this No No Board, but I can't imagine what it could be. Why anyone would think it's okay to stifle a kid's way of expression is beyond me. I mean, I could see some of these "rules" in specific lessons. Like, if she's teaching about drawing trees or something. But to put up a board full of rules with no context? That just doesn't make sense to me.