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problems that arose during art club


Date: Mon Mar 18 2002 - 12:42:42 PST

I've been reading the responses of what to do with a kid who swore in his
art & all had valid points.
Now this is my perspective.
Asking 4,5 yrs to create art that's scary & not expect anything drastic to
come out of it? I have worked with very young kids & boy, that would not
shock me. I've seen more outrageous things come out of little ones. The
difference is that I work with alot of special needs kids & come from a
therapeutic background. In a therapy session, I would possibly ask my
clients to do a project like that & those who are able to, have them talk
about it & tell a story about their art so they can process it & not leave
the issues dangling. I personally feel that I have a better capability of
understanding and interpreting art than a school counselor/psychologist due
to my training & interactions with the clients.
However, I would not ask my students to do an activity to depict a scary
ride, knowing what comes out of kids. That is setting one up, unless you
make strict guidelines beforehand what is permitted (and even then...) As a
(part time) teacher, you do not necessarily know if a kid has mental health
issues, disfunctional family, current problems, or is very provocative,
unless you make it a point knowing. Just because a kid comes from an
affluent family doesn't mean he can't have problems or issues.
What to do afterwards? Notifying the principal & discussing this with the
parents- without making a big deal, but emphasizing that you were a little
concerned about the child's output in class. I do not agree with removing
the child from the club. "the punishment should fit the crime." The child
did not get a chance to redeem himself... this is a 4 or 5 yr old remember,
not a 15 yr old! And even then, I have only removed children from groups if
they are completely inappropriate & are a hazard to themselves and/or others.
 Making it clear that swearing and/or innappropriate is not tolerated written
or spoken if these are the guidelines of the school.
I make it clear that when I work as a teacher, rather than a therapist, that
there are rules they need to follow and if they want to get credit, they must
follow them or their output/behavior gets reported to parents, probation
officer, social worker, etc.
When I have had kids who draw bongs and blunts as part of their assignment, I
make it clear that this cannot be turned in for credit and will have to meet
individually if they don't cease their acting out.
I don't agree with censoring a person's artwork once it is
need to work with them in the process. When I was working with an adult
(cognitively impaired & psychiatric diagnoses) a similiar situation came
up...he was creating a cartoon with very aggressive and violent language. I
asked him to tell me about the story & he explained he was angry at the
staff. I asked him what would happen if this happened in reality...was he
happy with the results or would he rather something else would happen. He
was able to express to me his anger & frustration, but then decided he wanted
to change the cartoon bubble & result into something more positive. But of
course, clinical training allows me to work in this way.

The end result is to make it clear to the parents that while their son may
have not be aware of that writing this was inappropriate for a classroom
setting (but ok at home or with a counselor if the adults are more lenient),
he has been warned & make it clear what the rules are of the club to the
whole group before the kids start on their art. A 4 yr old is not
necessarily savvy enough to be aware that afterschool activities with a new
teacher falls under the same rules as regular class, especially if this is
the first year of school for the child. None of us were there, so it's
difficult to figure out what precipitated these circumstances.

But on another note- why are adults so disturbed with kids writing swear
words or drawing violent/innappropriate imagery? I make it clear when I work
with kids that as long its within the art, the play & the session & they
don't act out, that creating & performing is a safe way to express oneself.
I have done some powerful sessions with kids, that I wouldn't be able to if I
told them they weren't allow to draw innappropriate imagery. Yes, it's
uncomfortable & at times, heart renching, but it's important for me to put my
discomfort out of the way to help kids.