I read chapter 7 of volume 3 which discusses “An Adequate Educational Theory”. Once again, a very dull title to an important idea regarding what we should think about when we are “educating” our children. This chapter is so full of thoughtful ideas and statements that it is impossible for me to summarize it all. I highly recommend your taking 20 minutes or so to read the chapter yourself and see what you think.
I want to comment on something in this chapter that relates to art and how we as parents need to be offering opportunities for our children to see and experience things in a new way. Here’s a quote from page 77 that I would like to share with you:
“Appreciation for beauty usually comes after recognition. Notice how, from the time he’s little, this young child tries to capture a flower’s beautiful color and graceful form with his own paintbrush. A wise mother is careful to make her child aware and appreciative of stylized art. She has him look at a wild cherry tree from a distance, or a willow tree with its soft *****willows. Then she shows him how the picture on a Japanese screen has captured the very look of the thing without being an exact representation. When he compares a single *****willow or cherry blossom with the ones in the picture, he can see that the pictures aren’t attempts at exact duplication. From an early age, he learns the difference between painting what we actually see, and painting what we know is there even if we don’t see it. He learns that it’s more satisfying to try to paint what is actually seen.”
This learning to see things as they are and not as we think they should be is an important step in art education. It means that we can take time to look deeply at an object and see it as it is and not as our mind thinks it is. The best example of this is when your children try to draw things like human faces and human hands. These are things that they have seen hundreds of times but have they truly “seen” them. This is why young children draw hands with five fingers all sticking out. They understand that a hand needs five fingers on it but that is not what we usually see when we look at someone’s hands. We see parts of hands, parts of fingers, and hardly ever the palm facing out. This is where we see the struggle of the child trying to draw what he thinks a hand should look like as opposed to what he really see. The same thing happens when children draw ears and noses and mouths. They end up drawing the symbol for what they think are these facial features instead of what they really appear to be on the human face. Interesting stuff.
My son drew this when he was about 5 years old. Yes, it is supposed to be me.
Notice that my son drew the apple seeds that he knows are on the inside of the apple even though we are looking at the outside of the apple. Interesting.
We need to be able to say, “I see.” This is done by teaching our children to recognize what they are seeing and pointing out how other artists have solved these problems of drawing or painting what is actually seen.
Harmony Art Mom