I was reading this article today and what a timely article it was! As I was observing my students’ various wonderful artwork over the year, I have come to the conclusion that both authentic and directional art activities should be allowed to be experienced by ALL children. We should stop dictating what is right or what is wrong, or why a child needs to color in the boxes or why an elephant has to be grey, or why a police car needs to be blue and white in color.
At Letzhop, we advocate both authentic artwork and craftivity. There is a need for directional art, for there are undoubtedly benefits in learning to follow instructions and creating something in sequence. But at the same time, giving space to children to do their own interpretation is absolutely essential as well, because how else would they exercise their creativity other than having the freedom to express themselves?
For example, in making a paper plate giraffe, it is totally okay if the giraffe is purple in color or if certain parts of the giraffe isn’t colored. As long as the general instructions in making the art are followed and the goals of the class are achieved e.g. learning about zoo animals, then learning is hopefully acquired.
As educators and parents, we have to always remember that children will complete a task at their current skill sets and capabilities. Pushing them to do exactly as how it is supposed to be will only supress their individuality, their own uniqueness. Not only that, forcing them to do something that is beyond what they’re capable of currently will only result in frustration for both educators/parents and children, as well as undesired environment in learning, leading to a gradual diminishing of a love for learning. We certainly do not want to generate robots or unthinking, unquestioning people in the future.
So, yes, the next time a student wants to color his penguin blue, or if a student wants to have just 3 spots on her giraffe, or if she decides that her finger-painted flower has stripes for petals, I’m going to say, “What a wonderful, authentic, genuine art!”
P.S. There is actually a very well received (overseas) approach to what I described above, which is called the Reggio Emilia approach, where the child is at the center of his own learning and teachers are co-learners and collaborators. Read on here.
Puan Sarini Bujang
Principal and Teacher