I feel like you know me by now, so I'm sure you know what is coming.
Our art studio has many rooms. Drama, Art, Music, Dance and more. One of the rooms is dedicated to our 'tots'; kids under the age of 3. We fill it with stations... music, threading activities, a large area of stones and shells and pinecones, boxes for fort building,. water colours, rubbing blocks, a chalk wall and more. Every day mums visit the room with their child and have teacher free, parent driven art experiences. We are on hand to show them 'the ropes' and get them familiar with the activities... but we leave it to the mums.
Every session, the chalk wall has beautiful marks and scribbles and shapes... experiments with colour and line. Today is different. Today is a small scribble, and a giant obtrusive rainbow... clearly made by a adult. This rainbow is a metaphor for me... its an obvious and clear illustration of when adults feel the need to guide, show, demonstrate and impart their knowledge... showing the 'right way to do something'
I noticed that it had been drawn within 5 minutes of the session starting. I also noticed that once it had been drawn... none of the 8 children present dared to go near the chalk wall; usually one of the most popular parts of the room... I can draw a lot of assumptions about this... both true and false. What I know is... it serves as a little reminder.
If you model the way art is supposed to look, and you are not in touch with the needs and level of the children you have, you can immediately shut down their ability to innovate, imagine or create. You stifle risk taking, failure, experimentation and growth. You turn learning into copying... you turn the dynamics of growth into memorisation and an excerise in right and wrong.
Every move, every mark we make in the classroom impacts our students.
Before becoming a teacher, before becoming an art teacher, I was an artist. I am an established and prolific cartooninst... I love to draw, and I love the expressions and excitement that happens when children see me create art... but... I will forfeit that, to see them create. So, when modelling, I draw with my left hand, I use stick figures, I draw quick fast and simply, and once I have shown the example I hide it. I refuse to let my ability or ego become a stumbling block for students.
They still get to see my art... I still demonstrate and play games and draw them fun drawings... but this is separate to the classroom and the lesson environment. The learning space needs to be safe for them to take risks.