So last night, Jeff’s kindergarten class had a “Kindergarten community night of art” for all kindergartners and their parents to attend. What a nice idea, I thought! I love art, right? I love my Kindergartner, right? I get to meet other parents, right? The kids will have a ball, making stuff and creating, right? Cool! Let’s go!
Um, maybe I’m just not cut out for this whole “Kindergarten Community” thing. Categorically I am not a cynical person, but holy cow, at an “art night” shouldn’t the kids get to MAKE art??
In the school gym, they had 8 cafeteria tables set up with different projects at each table. There were parent/teacher volunteers at each table, to show the kids what to do and to supervise the chaos. At each table, there was a pile of materials and a sample of what could be made with the materials. All well and good.
Jeff and I plopped down at a table and began to play- but immediately a teacher jumped in to “guide him”- and by “guide him” I mean control his every move and force him to make EXACTLY a copy of the sample. The teacher told him where to cut his paper, where to put the glue, how many of each cut-out to put on the paper, and where they should go- going to far to move his creation when he didn’t precisely follow the directions…
After about five minutes of trying to be patient and forgiving, I felt like I have a mouth full of shattered glass and had to speak out… “Jeffrey, you can put the pieces wherever you want- and however you like them- remember, there are no mistakes in art…” as I gave my best conciliatory, proper (through gritted teeth) smile to the teacher.
Jeff finished his (sic) project at that table, and we moved on to the next- wildly hoping that was just an example of one teacher’s foibles… no such luck. It would seem that the entire district policy regarding art is- “Make what I show you how to make, and hurry up about it” My kid is not used to this idea, I am proud to say, and quickly lost interest in making institutionalized “art”.
Now, I’m not a hippy-dippy California free-lover, and while I understand the need to exercise some control over a group of forty 5-year-olds- why plan an “art” night at all? Wouldn’t it be better to just have a pot-luck and let the kids play?
Our little kids are so totally creative and open for such a short time- the world crowds in, they develop self-consciousness and begin to censure themselves- let’s don’t do it for them before that precious window closes on it’s own. Please?