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Lesson Plans


Coloring Books: another opinion

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David Zimmerman (fastedy)
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 15:06:24 -1000

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I think its interesting how this coloring book issue keeps resurfacing on
this list over time. No one seems to ride the fence on it--you either
think they're okay or you hate them for reasons already stated on this
list. My training as an artist and arts educator emphasized the big "C"
word--creativity--and suggested that predrawn images squelched it. As a
working artist, I squirmed whenever I saw kids coloring another artist's
drawings.

However, my experience with children both at home and at school has
suggested otherwise. For whatever reason, some children find it extremely
enjoyable to sit and color in books. I'm beginning to think this has
nothing to do with art or personal expression. These are adult labels.
Kids find coloring relaxing. A sense of satisfaction and completion
results for many as they complete a page. It might have more to do with
temperment and meeting personal needs for relaxation.

My niece, who is seven, often pulls out a coloring book when she needs to
amuse herself or wants a quiet activity. She also loves to paint and draw
her own extensive reptoire of images. These two projects don't seem to be
related and one doesn't seem to get in the way of the other. I just asked
her what the difference was between these two activities. She said she
saves her drawings for special occasions like making a birthday card or
picture for someone. Obviously she realizes that her own images are more
valuable and are like giving a piece of herself. She says the people who
make the coloring books can draw "better" than she can, but it doesn't seem
to be stunting her growth or interest in making her own pictures. I think
children become disinterested in art because of their developmental phase
(as suggested by Lowenfield) as well as lack of art classes in schools.

Coloring is a bit like knitting or whittling wood, I suppose. Maybe kids
who like to color are the ones who grow up organizing their closets or
sorting their socks by color. Maybe its an area where left and right brain
can meet comfortably.

Deb Rosenbaum

The Surgeon's Motto: "Never say 'oops!', always say 'there!'


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