Art education, inspiration and encouragement for children and parents in Arlington, VA
"I don't need a teacher to help me".
I don't want to draw it your way, my way is better for me".
This response is common in art with children. We resist challenge when we perceive it as a personal threat instead of an opportunity. Art is a skill we learn to develop in order to step into a new level of awareness.
Criticism can be good
Learning to know the difference between a personal put-down and healthy criticism for positive growth is an important for learning.
To help your your child or student be open to learning when they show resistance isn't always easy.
In class I don't take no as an answer to learning. I tell children they are in art class to learn art. If they don't like what they learn in art they can choose not to use it at home, but while in art they are expected to try.
The chill out table is where we go to reflect. When we are ready to try to learn we come back to the class on our own, without coercion.
Art may be personal but it isn't who you are
Learning a skill in art means you are not being corrected for an inner flaw in your personality. Your art is not you. We don't always know this. Adults feel shame about their art abilities too.
Art can affect positive feelings but it is not who we are. Learning to discern between learning skills and personal transformation through this learning are how art and character development go hand in hand.
Children may be helped to be more open to learning to draw when they are assured that the new skill will help them feel good about their drawings. When a criticism is made about their art, it is not about them as people.
Learning to take it
Art is a skill that can be learned and all artists are always learning, no matter how old they are. We are never finished growing and learning.
The important lesson is to is to stay open to learning. When we feel we are being put down we need to ask "am I being told that I am not a good person, or am I being told I am ready to learn a new skill in art? Our feet grow and we need new shoes. It doesn't mean our feet are wrong.
How can I help?
The best way to help a reluctant student is to require a short time of attention to learn a new skill. Watch to be sure the student demonstrates an understanding of how to draw it and then back off, move on, revisit later.
When given time to make their own decisions children will often look at the improvement and go with it, especially when complimented and encouraged about what they have learned from other students.
Parents and teachers can reinforce learning by looking at what children have accomplished in art. Asking questions like "how did you draw that" puts children in the position of teaching the new skill which reinforces their learning.
Drawing with children and being vulnerable helps children to see that drawing requires work and patience, perseverance and trust. Art is not just a product but a process requiring character development.
Jean Frank Stark
I make art and have taught to children for over 20 years.