8.29.2013

Teaching Art by Stretching Imaginations

Last Thursday I was standing in the art room on the crazy flex day schedule trying to figure out which week it was, who was coming and at what point they where in the project at hand.  It was overwhelming to me.  Made me irritable actually.  I shouldn't be such an ingrate.  Seriously.  I see the entire student body 3 times in 2 weeks for at least 45 min, I think it's actually 50.  Monday-Wednesday is set in stone.  Thursday and Friday however there is an A, B, C schedule.  That is awesome for the kids to get that much art, music and PE in a week.  Some schools struggle with a once a week 30 min time slot.  So that's not the issue here. 

This is the issue.  Kids these days are giving too much time to activities after school.    Or in the car getting to these activities, some are their own and others are their siblings activities.  Heck, last week I clocked 70 something miles in carpooling and getting to after school stuff in one afternoon.  NUTSO!  And we just have 2 kids.  Not to mention the school day is packed with classwork that rarely involves creative exploration.  A kid the other day was so freaking excited that I allowed free-draw time WITH markers I thought he'd pee himself.    We aren't giving kids time to explore their imaginations.  Simply put.  I am guilty with my own kids.  So not pointing fingers out.
So then I had an idea....a rather Grinchly idea..bwaaahaaahaaaaaa.......ok not really.  But that movie is stuck in my head for whatever reason.  So there ya have it. 
1.  Kids these days know how to use an I-something better than me.  But ask them to use a pair of these and they cut the tips of their fingers off.  No really, a 1st grader literally cut the top tip of skin off her finger last week then proceeded to squeeze it to death allowing the blood to gush out at said cut.  It was awesome.  And circle cutting?  Let's just say circles to them are gumdrops to me.
 2.  Drawing to kids means using a mouse.  Or stylus if they are lucky.  Or even on the TV using the Wii-Draw or other contraption.  They know how to draw Mine Craft characters but ask them to draw a simple circle or even something imaginary of their own and they literally can not.  Like freak out mode I don't know what to draw.
3.   I can hardly look at this without wanting to cry.
4.  So if we can't manipulate the most basic of art materials, how can I even introduce these?

So I decided this.  Mon-Wednesday is regular planned instructional projects.  We are working in the theme, "Art Around the World".  These days I'll be introducing art from different cultures.  We'll be drawing, painting, sculpting, etc....using the National and State Standards as the base for all the lessons.

And then on flex days...we are going to play, get messy and use our imaginations.  No Mine Craft....no Star Wars....just kids.  Now, being the theme girl that I am and wanting to be sure this fits with proper instruction time used wisely we are basing each week on an Element or Principle of Design.  This week was line.  And we used this:
Yeah, art teachers have a bountiful supply of crap from people's basements they no longer can use.  I could knit my orange van a sweater with the amount of yarn in this art closet.  I do not lie.  And how many of you moms are daring enough to actually get out the glue, string and paper and make string art with your children?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  That's kinda why I love my job.  I get to introduce kids to all sorts of ways to make you Mommies nutty at home because their kid now wants to make a string art duckie using yarn. 

We as parents are so quick to buy the latest game for Nintendo or latest i-tune song for the ear bobs.  Those things don't make messes.  They keep the children entertained.  They give us a breather.  (been there, done that believe me!) I challenge you though, next time you're at a local business that sells craft supplies to buy your child a box of washable markers, a ream of white paper and a roll of masking tape.  It will keep them equally entertained.  Might be a tad messy.  But the magic that can come from that hour is worth every penny.  

So....if your kid has me, today in art we made string art at center 1.  We talked about lines and how the ball of yarn is one darn long line.  We also made "doodle art" at center 2.  Kids had no idea what that meant.  I said it meant drawing from your imagination and not really worrying about an end picture.  Just draw what you are feeling, or something you like to eat, or something you like to do.  Doodle.  Seriously?  I had to teach 5th graders what it means to doodle?  Yeah I just did that.  I can not wait to get to the end of the year to see how far we've stretched our imaginations out.  Hopefully farther than imaginable, right?

2 comments:

Dale Parker said...

Jenny, while it is sorta sad, I'm glad to hear you have these issues with the lack of creativity or knowing how to execute simple art techniques. I don't feel so alone. I swear some of my students stare at scissors as if they had a Martian sitting in the middle of the table. Your schedule sounds heavenly to me...mine has been reduced to a sort of 40 min. thing. The teacher is supposed to bring their class on time...not, and come back to pick them up which happens to be the same time another class is coming in. One day I am sure I will have over 50 kids in my room at one time because no one comes for them. Yikes! Anyway I love what you do with your students. I took a class with you in VA Beach a couple of years ago and hope to take one again before long.

Beth said...

I can soooo relate to this! My biggest frustration with teaching was trying to get them to be creative! Creative doodling was one of my favorite things to do, but sadly many of them just did not know how. But if they could not use their imagination by the end of the year, it wasn't because I didn't try! Gotta love em!

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