Today, I’m thinking about creativity.
As a former Early Childhood Educator who has studied child development and curriculum, I recognize that creativity is a process, not a finished project. Creativity is about forming original ideas. Creativity gives full freedom to explore both environment and materials. Creativity, at its core, is about observation, independent thinking, innovation and imagination.
There is nothing more detrimental to children’s creative process than being shown a finished piece so that they can strive to mimic it, if not in totality, then in some way. You will paint King Tut. You will ALL paint King Tut.
Currently, there are many so-called art classes for youngsters that are promoted as being creative when, in fact, the instructor hands the kids a stencil and selects the paint colours for them. Only the few finishing touches (like where the eyes are painted or if the cat has black fur or brown fur) somehow makes the piece unique and personal. Um. No.
Perhaps, the instructors feel that parents put more emphasis on the finished piece than on their children finding inspiration and developing self-realization. After all, the parents shelled out $100, $200 or $300, so perhaps the instructor feels compelled to show that those dollars produced what most would view as “art” to ensure the student (customer) returns.
Thankfully, I’ve found a course that will teach my daughter some techniques, but will not overshadow her creative process by telling her what she will create. She will be collaborating on a mural with other children her age. THEY will plan and design its layout and then work on completing the art. .
As someone who writes for children, it is imperative to me that my books encourage self-expression. One of the books which I’ve written has my main character taking art classes, and I’ve been very careful to show that she isn’t told WHAT to paint. My protagonist slowly develops her skills and is free to produce the art that SHE sees all around her.
As a former teacher, as a mother, as a children’s book writer, I must nurture the creative process in young children the best that I can.
Am I opinionated about this? Absolutely. I say, colour outside the lines, paint the sky gold if you want to and if everyone else is painting King Tut, then go on, paint your platypus as big and bold as you want.
And let art come from the heART.