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Bad language in art- Help needed


From: Stephen Wood (steve_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 14 2002 - 13:50:00 PST

It was a simple project. The fair had come to town and had taken over most
of the streets. This event takes place once a year. For those who were not
inspired enough by this I suggested designing a ride so scary that nobody
would want to go on it. We had real ghosts on ghost trains, bungee jumps
with knives under them dinasour rides etc. This work was mainly coming from
4 or 5 eight year olds. How could I have expected to raise any eyebrows
with this project? Read on...

One child had decided to draw a funfair disaster, the ferris wheel had
accidently come undone and was rolling down a hill. A person on the ride was
yelling from a speach bubble to the ride opperator "You fu*cking B*stard".
These children go to a very respectable school, in a very respectable area.
Their parents are doctors, therapists, business people ect. Never have I
come accross a desire for any child to use language like this in their work.
I was suprised to say the least. I spoke to the child about this language
and suggested that he might like to erase it and write something less
controversial, but he was adamant that the words should stay and he was
taking the piece home to show his mum. I could have been more forceful, but
that's not who I am.

Now I'm obviously expecting some sort of backlash. But I felt it wasn't my
place to intefere with this childs work. It transpired that a friend
suggested the words which HE uses to stop his parents from arguing.

My arguemnent is, that art is a means of communication and if this child
felt so strongly about leaving the words on the page, there maybe something
else he is trying to tell us. To simply rub them out and replace them would
be denying him his right to express himself. I do not advocate swearing in
our art clubs, I have never experienced it nor do I expect it and verbally I
NEVER allow it.

I'm struggling to justify my reasons. Someone help me out here. I feel I
could have handled it better, tried to find other words to do the same job,
found out what was going on. I was so taken by suprise I handled it badly.

What would you have done? It happened at an after school art club. We are
not teachers at the school. Shall I phone the headmistress tommorow? And say