I'm going to agree with Ken on this...for one, I begin with the premise that
the visual arts are a form of language.
You do not place yourself in a foreign country with language unknown and
begin a meaningful dialog, at least not if your intentions are to be
understood. You must refer to a guide, or develop language abilities.
This is not to say that meaning and the "why" we and others make art is not
at the same time infused with the foundational tools.
I begin this right from the earliest of elementary ages thru
highschool...artists are visual communicators. Writers, speakers make use
of an alphabet, grammatical rules, enunciation and diction...and creative
individuals using that form of communication attempt to construct the
formation of written or spoken language to bring forth meaningful dialog. A
dialog of ideas receiving rubber to be put forth to the road.
Line families, shapes, color, mass, values, textures...all things visible
are the means the artist will communicate. Clearly this has to be
understood as a distinction of that which makes an artist a VISUAL artist,
otherwise one might be an author, or a speaker, a poet or musician. All are
artists of their form...
Eventually the why that mankind feels the need to express themselves is
considered and referred to. That too may come in small sound bytes...little
here, little there until it becomes and holds a greater place in the
I see another problem, and I think I will get flak for this...but it won't
alter my thinking because others might disagree. As an adult I'm prepared
to state things, to communicate and stand by them.
I think we have to be careful in how we guide students, especially young
children...in looking at the world to attempt and understand and draw
If everyone knew what lawyers knew...there would be no need for lawyers. If
everyone knew what doctors knew...there would be no need for doctors. If
everyone knew what adults knew, there would be no childhood.
Adults develop coping mechanisms to deal with that which will require adult
decision making, that which will keep potential crisis in balance or even
keel. Adults look at the world with more understanding and experience to
determine how things should affect their feelings, reactions,
Unfortunately...childhood is an endangered stage of human development...most
losing their innocence over the past couple decades or so...seeing violence,
decadence, things that instill fear..all things by which adults alone at one
time were privy to.
In a literary society...adults could determine when children were prepared
and equipped to have access to certain literary volumes and help guide young
people to preparedness...but today everything is a click or button
away...television, videos and dvd's, the internet, magazines...the music.
Personally...I think that major student problems in discipline,
personalities filled with bitterness, filled with anxiety...fears...anger
and so forth and many disruptive behaviors is a product of children
experiencing, witnessing and having to process adult information.
We of course cannot turn the time or wheel back on such things in our
culture, but it helps to be aware of it and in so being aware, more careful
of our own contributions that may cause kids to confront adult things. We
have to be a little careful that in guiding children to consider the bigger
questions, we aren't attempting to stir up frightening aspects of hidden
Art can be about celebration...and there can be much about our world that
holds awe and mystery that in childhood can be explored and celebrated. We
have to be careful not to be so gung ho and presume the role of social
engineering that we are robbing children of their childhood. It would
require quite a knowledge and sensitivity on the part of the art teacher
whom would be nearly acting as a therapist and sociologist, a philosopher to
confidently travel this road...but at what risk, what cost?
So...one has to be careful in constructing their bigger questions to
children in lieu of a world that has introduced a great deal of confusion,
pain and challenges that require adult maturity and adult broadened
experiences. A world many adults are not prepared such questions to ask.
I'm not saying don't ask questions...but regard childhood a thing to value.
Be aware that childhood has been robbed...and that many young hearts might
not be prepared for such inquiry.
I think moderation...patience to let inquiry naturally develop along the
road of understanding the mechanisms that comprise visual arts as a language
is wise. As children mature and are ready, able to consider major adult
questions without detriment...encouraging their consideration that artists
are people that tackle questions of meaning, take on perplexing issues and
use their art as responses, statements is appropriate.
One will have to get to know their students...as well as perhaps their
surrounding culture, their home life. After all...that is what a social
engineer and the therapists would have to do, no?
I side with caution. Preserve childhood. Make it fun...learn the language
of art that artists use and have developed over time...little by little make
it personal, help them grow into confident teens.
just my opinion....and further, I'm sticking to it....