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[teacherartexchange] A poem to think about (Do you kill creativity?)

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From: Judy Decker (judy.decker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2006 - 06:05:02 PDT


Dear Art Educators,

This poem appeared on TAB Choice list. I looked it up online to see if
I could find the author.... and low and behold, I found it in an old
Getty list post from 1998. The author is anonymous. Note: There is
also a song that Harry Chapin sings called..."Flowers are Red" (from a
follow up post on this poem)

ONCE A LITTLE GIRL

Once a little girl went to school.
She was quite a little girl.
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little girl
Found that she could go to her room
By walking right in from the door outside,
She was happy.
And the school did not seem
Quite so big anymore.

One morning,
When the little girl had been in school awhile,
The teacher said,
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little girl.
She liked to make pictures.
She could make all kinds.
Lions and tigers,
Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats.
And she took out her box of crayons
And began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin."
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make flowers."
"Good!" thought the little girl.
She liked to make flowers.
And she began to make beautiful ones
With her pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And it was red with a green stem.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little girl looked at the teacher's flower.
Then she looked at her own flower.
She liked her flower better than the teacher's
But she did not say this.
She just turned her paper over
And made a flower like the teacher's.
It was red with a green stem.

On another day,
When the little girl had opened
The door from the outside all by herself
The teacher said,
"Today we are going to make something in clay."
"Good!" thought the little girl.
She liked clay.
She could make all kinds of things with clay.
Snakes and snow creatures,
Elephants and mice,
Cars and trucks.
And she began to pull and pinch her ball of clay.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make a dish."
"Good!", thought the girl.
She liked to make dishes.
And she began to make some
That were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"And I will show everyone how to make
One deep dish."
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little girl looked at the teacher's dish.
Then she looked at her own.
She liked hers better than the teacher's
But she did not say this.
She just rolled her clay into a big ball again
And made a dish like the teacher's.
It was a deep dish.
And pretty soon
The little girl learned to wait and the watch
And to make things look just like the teacher's.
Pretty soon
She didn't make things of her own anymore.

Then it happened
That the little girl and her family
Moved to another house in another city.
And the little girl
Had to go to another school.
This school was even bigger than the other
And there was no door from the outside
Into her room.
She had to go up some big steps
And walk down a long hall
To get to her room.

And the very first day she was there
The teacher said,
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little girl.
And she waited for the teacher
To tell her what to do.

But the teacher didn't say anything.
She just walked around the room.
When she came to the little girl
She said, "Don't you want to make a picture?"
"Yes," said the little girl,
"What are we going to make?"
"I don't know until you make it." said the teacher.
"How shall I make it?" asked the little girl.
"Why, any way you like." said the teacher.
"And any color?" asked the little girl.
"Any color." said the teacher.
"If everyone made the same picture,
And used the came colors,
How would I know who made what,
And which was which?"
"I don't know." said the little girl.
And she began to make a red flower with a green stem.
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So.... What is the answer to this question. What is more important,
the product or the process? Absolutely, the process. You want your
students to be able to think like artists. If you do all of the
thinking for them, where is the learning? Where is the problem
solving? We (art teachers) claim to teach problem solving skills....
but if we give all the answers, we are not developing problem solving
skills at all.

Please, elementary teachers, allow your students to use their own
ideas too. I came from a school that had the slick elementary projects
(but not all the students could meet her expectations - many hated
art!). I had a very hard time getting students to think. They wanted
my easy answers (and many wanted me to actually do it for them! Like
she did).

Please take the time to read the essays on Marvin Bartel's site:
http://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/art-ed-links.html

Sure... most of the lessons on Incredible Art Department are about the
easy answers.... they are "recipes" for success. I would like to put
more lessons on Incredible Art Department about Choice.... In time,
more will come. The Horses lesson page is a start. Many materials
could be made available for an animal sculpture and if they don't want
to make an animal... they will make something else.

Regards,

Judy Decker
Incredible Art Department
http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/
Incredible Art Resources
http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/

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