Arts or crafts?

Rewind to my first year of teaching. Grade one. I’m hanging my students’ artwork. As a newbie teacher I’d happily ‘borrowed’ the idea from my colleagues. Happily that is, until I am stapling the so-called artwork to the bulletin board. “This isn’t art,” I hear myself saying. All 24 are precisely the same. Okay, perhaps there is some variation distinguishable at close inspection. Virtually though, 24 carbon copies.

From that moment on, I vow not to lead my students through crafts: the copying of steps, ultimately creating the same product. I vow to teach my students art: to draw out their creativity and individuality, to introduce skills and techniques, to teach them to reflect, create, appreciate and interpret visual symbols.

Over the years, art became one of my favourite subjects to teach. I challenged myself to find ways to teach colour, line, texture, shape, design, proportion – still allowing my students to express themselves, valuing their inventiveness to create a product all their own.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Let’s not squelch the artist within our students sooner than seems to happen naturally with age! Ensure that your students can identify their own work from the bulletin board because their choices within their composition are deliberate and purposeful. Capitalize on a child’s fearlessness, ingenuity and self-confidence while it still exists. Allow the instinct of a child to create, discover and explore to infiltrate your art lessons.

If you want 24 carbon copies, use the photocopier.

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