Friday, September 9, 2011

Who can make stuff?

While working on my teacher certification, I taught for two years in a nationwide child care chain. The turnover rate was enormous because of low pay, long hours and the fact that despite Arizona's already high child to adult ratios, the center did not always manage to have enough employees on hand to keep the classrooms 'at ratio'. But the teacher I worked with and I worked together to make our room an oasis. (As much as we could, under the circumstances.)

Although our budget for posters and craft supplies was very low, there was an abundant supply of construction paper. We used the bulletin boards to full advantage, displaying artwork, lesson plans and educational concepts. When it came time to create new displays, my friend/co-teacher would say, "You'll have to do that part. I can't do it right." But the fact is that I am not enormously skilled as an artist. My drawings look like John Lennon's scribbles. When we created a farm background to display the children's artwork, my construction paper pigs looked like pigs because they were pink and round and had a snout and a curly tail, not because they actually looked like pigs. Seriously, I believe that anyone has the skill to cut out a paper pig. But we don't all have the confidence to do it. So in a way, it was true that she couldn't do it. She couldn't. It was a crisis of confidence though, not skill.

These days, I get to teach art at my children's school. (There is no official Art Program, so parent volunteers go into the classrooms to teach scripted lessons.) The kids light up when they see the art guides walk in with our boxes of paint and paper. They love to create. And they don't worry that they 'can't' do it (well, not until fifth grade or so...) I wonder what we can do to help more people hold onto that desire to create. It's kind of sad that we get hung up on not good enough, instead of embracing the idea that this is what I can do. Why do we reject the fun of craft for fear that it is not art...or art enough?

(Speaking of which...something I can't do. Yet. I am working on a pattern for a fan art Totoro embellishment. I have made a bunch and each time the little guy improves. When I look at my first attempt now, I have to laugh. I don't know how to make this embellishment...but I am figuring it out.)

1 comment:

  1. Good for you with encouraging the "can do" attitude. We fully adhere to the fact that as long as we tried we did it! Regardless of how it turns out. Some of my most beloved treasures are the happy accidents we created.


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