Sunday, July 26, 2009
I'VE BEEN CHEATED!
Justine, my youngest grandchild, just finished up kindergarten at a private elementary school in Los Angeles. Her mom sent me a copy of her report card and I’d like to share with you what the art teacher said:
“The Kindergarteners began the term with a drawing project intended to help me assess their developmental level. After that, we did a series of template drawings, a potent way to expand fine motor skills as well as begin thinking about elements of design. At first, the young artists worked with standard colored pencils on white paper, but then repeated the template project using metallic colored pencils on black paper. These variations demonstrated the connection between media used and product produced. We then did a bit of watercolor painting, an introductory project primarily designed to teach how to properly use watercolor sets and appropriate care for brushes. The next few weeks were spent on the Multicultural Day assignment, creating a project reminiscent of Uzbekistani textiles. Other goals of this project included an understanding of the concept of putting a drawing “in repeat,” an essential element in textile design. After that, we did a cartoon unit, using a series of simple characters, Otto O’Toole and friends. Cartooning, in addition to being fun, is a potent introduction to representational drawing. Finally, the children did an abstract design project, using various colors of plastic electrical tape. One of the goals of this task was to demonstrate how art can be created from materials not usually thought of in that context.”
Can you imagine a kindergartner having this kind of exposure to art? Yes, it is a private school and the classes are much smaller than classes in public school and surely it must be easier to find time (and teachers) to make this happen. But when I read this, my first reaction was to feel sorry for myself.
Little Justine is having the kind of art education I wish I had had! I have such a love of art and so little understanding of it. Fifteen years of schooling and no one ever told me about elements of design and the connection between media used and product produced. Nor about the essential elements of textile design and about representational drawing. I could go on, but it probably was that way with you too, if you went to public school in California.
I do remember taking Art 1 in 7th grade for the first semester and I think Music 1 replaced Art during the second semester. But at that time it was more “exposure” than “experiencing,” giving us just a wee acquaintance with the subject. From that point on, both art and music classes were electives. Unless we chose them to the exclusion of other academic classes, our art and music learning was finished!
If little kindergarteners are being exposed to these kinds of things when they are five years old and are having hands-on experience producing while they are learning, and if that exposure continues each year (which it does at Justine’s school), how enriching it is going to make Justine’s life as she grows up and has all of Los Angeles’ creative community at her fingertips.
I read her report card and thought to myself that I’ve been cheated!