Preserving a Child’s Autonomy in Art-Making

I posted this meme from the Badass Teachers Association three years ago and it is still relevant. When their school work is all externally driven, teacher controlled and directed, children lose all sense of what motivates them.

Rubrics like this one (left) have become all too common, especially in early childhood classrooms. art rubric vs. paul klee

Just imagine how these so-called “high standards” might impact a five-year-old with poor motor skills?

I find myself reacting with an inner cringe when I see a child, age six or seven, fill in the sky instead of using a skyline and ground line as most young children do without prompting. Here are some paintings from my classroom this year. Note the playful brushstrokes and mixed colors.

In my classroom, I encourage young artists to make sure they have used the space to express their ideas fully, but I never tell them to fill in every bit of white space on the page.
brooks_gr 1_ptgs

 

Why has conformity become expected? Since when did a child’s drawing become subject to such scrutiny? Has anyone reflected on what this is doing to a child’s sense of autonomy, their sense of creativity, their sense of wonder? Choice-based art teaching and learning, or TAB–Teaching for Artistic Behavior, is a counter-point to this mindless push to make all children conform to arbitrary standards.

brooks_jacob's sea

We must do more to advocate for the child, their right to self-expression, no matter what form it takes.

Comments are closed.