Our neighbour's son came over this morning to play with the kids. I wanted to make some thank you cards for the people who sent us all the lovely things yesterday so I invited him to join us. He had no clue as to what we were going to do and why although I had told him we'd make some cards. It was as if it didn't make any sense to him to "make cards". I gave the kids some cardboard and let them choose some pictures to glue on the cards. I gave the boy the glue stick and he didn't know how to open it and what to do with it. I instructed him and off he went. After they were done I gave them some crayons and coloured pencils and told them they could decorate the cards as they pleased. He asked me what he was supposed to do. I told him he was free to draw anything he wanted to and off he went. Then he wanted to write his name but the problem was you can only write things with a proper pencil. The coloured ones aren't for writing purposes. He later accepted a black pencil and off he went.
At school over here (I'm talking about a small town in Brazil's backlands, not the whole country) there's no real art instruction at school. Kids do some crafting in nursery and pre-school and probably some still in the lower grades but it's all very adult-led, organised and pre-meditated. I was over at the neighbour's some time ago and the kids (ours and theirs) were colouring. My neighbour told her son not to make a mess with the colouring and to colour only in one direction. I had to force myself into silence. I mean what on earth does it matter if a child (or an adult for that matter) colours in different directions!
In the school where I taught last semester both the teachers and the kids are very worried about all artwork being pretty. The kids are being praised if their drawing came out pretty and constantly warned not the make anything ugly. Who decides what's pretty and what's ugly anyway? I hate to think about how many kids get upset because the teacher said their artwork was't pretty due to their choice of colours or to the fact that they coloured outside the lines.
So at home we try to do lots of different kinds of crafting as well as simply free drawing and painting. I really want the kids to feel the joy of creating something without having to worry if someone else likes the outcome or not. I often give them an idea as to what we could make that time and I sometimes help them along but I try not to interfere too much. It really doesn't matter what I think about their artwork as long as they've had fun doing it.
Glad to get that out. Now I can continue my day :)