|As an artist, instructor
and Mother I have a growing concern about the elimination of vital creative programs in
our childrens schools. Computers are now in every classroom across the country so
that our children may have access to modern technology and an abundance of information.
The "Information Highway" is certainly too ominous to ignore, but what about the
information in the hallway?
If I had been given a
computer during those intense growing-up years, I may have had endless
information, but I would not have had the knowledge that, in spite of all the teasing and
ridicule, I was really okay. That inside of me was a spirit worthy of
recognition, and that through art that spirit could be revealed, acknowledged, shared and
even celebrated. Most importantly, art can offer a much-needed outlet for those capped up
emotions, which scream for release in a childs heart. Art in essence is a wonderful
vehicle for communication. Its a way of saying " I exist and I have something
to share with you." I often say that art is a language we can all speak.
It would be great if our children could simply learn to
avoid pain, but of course that is impossible. Most of us try to ignore it, but we all know
what happens then. Pain left unattended only grows, makes us sick and cries for our
attention. But if pain is acknowledged and heard then it is at least reduced to a level of
management. We must give all children the opportunity and tools to address their emotional
well being. Not just their pain, but also their joy. They can speak it, read about it,
write it, sing it, draw it or paint it. Children can become aware of their own valuable
contributions to their school, family and community. They can become aware that, yes it is
good to become somebody, but most importantly, they already are someone of
immense value. The message that we sometimes give children is that when they
grow-up they will be someone of value. Questions such as "What do you want to
be?" can actually be a belittling comment to a child. As adults we must focus on who
children already are and acknowledge their daily progress and unique personalities.
I started this column talking about the availability of
computers in our schools. Yes, computers are wonderful tools, but do we rely on them at
the expense of human relations? Yes, computers can connect us to the world, but do they
isolate us from our families? American families were already stretched for time at home.
Most of them admitting that after they get home from work, get dinner, hopefully help with
homework, there are only a few precious minutes spent with the kids before bedtime. Add to
this orchestration a computer, and well
there arent many minutes left. The
Internet and chat rooms have become the newest addition to modern day addictions. Nowadays
there are a lot of children tucking themselves in bed because Mom or Dad can not pull
themselves away from their newfound friends on the internet.
While shopping last weekend, I overheard a couple
discussing how children have lost respect for their elders, and "I know why",
one of them huffed, "Its because we took the stick away." Well, it
certainly isnt the sticks that are missing, but it could possibly be the absence of
|Where do the children turn when
there is no one home to talk to? No one to guide, comfort, console or embrace?
And why is it you never hear adults talk about how we, perhaps,
may be failing our children? I am really tired of overhearing conversations that make our
children sound like the enemy. How are children suppose to cope in this troubled world,
how will they handle their problems at school and at home if they are receiving the
message that we arent even behind them? If we could all just take a pledge as
parents, teachers, and neighbors to stop putting down our children, do you know what a
positive impact that would have on our youth?
Art cant erase the pain of life. It cannot
eliminate the criticism and cruelty that so many children endure, but it can and does
connect children with a strong inner resource, which contributes to a better sense of
During Jr. High School I was teased on a daily basis by a
group of children in the cafeteria. I was called the witch because of my
pointed nose. I began to hang my head to hide my nose beneath my long hair, and I stopped
eating in the cafeteria. I sought refuge behind a tree during lunch. This went on for
quite some time until my art teacher, Mr. Villers noticed that my posture had changed, and
he was thoughtful enough to ask me what was wrong. When I told him how I hated my nose he
smiled and took a large book down from the shelf. It was a book of Greek and roman
statures. He sat down beside me and said that what I had was a true classic
nose, the kind that can be found on the most famous statures in the world. He flipped
through the pages, offering up proof that my nose was a work of art. Needless
to say, though my nose hadnt changed a bit, my way of looking at it had.
Art has the ability to change the way we look at things,
including others and ourselves. Art teachers have the privilege of being in the wonderful
position of assisting this awareness in his or her students.
Art helps us to celebrate our uniqueness, to walk tall
down the hallways of our youth. Creative endeavors give us a new awareness of our inner
spirit, which cannot be silenced, which must be expressed. As long as children are given
the tools for healthy expression, then there is no time or thought for destruction.
I believe we are paying a heavy price in the elimination
of programs, which encourage self-expression. We must have subjects that focus on our
childrens inner treasure rather than just external measure.
I recently completed a 13 week Art Image Program at Scott
Memorial I asked the children themselves to answer this question. "Do you feel that
art is Important to your Education?" This is what some of them, in their own words,
had to say.
"Art is very important for many reasons. One of
them being that you can express yourself without words, without harming yourself or anyone
else. You dont have to be good at art to get your point across to the
viewer. You could simply draw a small picture and make a large difference in a certain
Art is educational too. Each week when I went into
|came out knowing more. This
class has made me want to sign up for art in high school because it has been such an
enjoyment for me." Anna Caldwell
important to me because I can be creative and express my feelings through art. When I
create something I am always proud, and I look forward to showing my work to my family,
and friends. I have learned how to express my mental view on paper. I am neither bored or
tired after art because it is always fun and refreshing. It gives me the opportunity to
learn new skills and it helps my personal growth."
"Art teaches us that everything around us is art and
we should notice it. Education without art is like a stem without the flower. Our art is
like butterflies, they are all beautiful, but they are all different."
"I have learned who invented mobiles and the
difference between 2 and 3 dimensional art."
"I learned that I can be good at anything if I work
"I feel its important to learn about artists
in the past and present and to express myself"
"Its a new experience everytime you get to
draw something. It helps me to express the way I feel. Ive learned that no matter
what I draw, paint or make, it is beautiful. Art is beautiful because its made by
you and theres only one like it."
"Art makes me feel that I can do anything that I
want to do."
Charles D. Miller
"Everyone should take art because it
expands your mind and really relaxes you."
"It develops eye and hand coordination and it gives
kids a chance to express their feelings."
"Art expresses your feelings and uses your
"Art is important because it is a part of history.
It is a way for people to express what they feel in ways that you cant do with
words. It makes me proud to be able to create something that people will compliment me
"Art can teach us many things that books cant.
It is good for our education because it helps us express our feelings."
" I have learned that everyone is different.
Everyone has their own style. We are very unique."
"Art can keep you calm."