This post is the first in a series.
Art: A Lost Art?
Creativity is alive and well. This is a belief firmly held, obviously, by the writers of the Real Life Artist blog. Yet claims to the contrary abound. The series herein kicked off will explore some aspects—and only some, for I am but one woman with one blog and a day job—of the state and nature of creativity.
We’ll begin with a brief mosey down memory lane….
SQUIRT and My Visit to OPS
Some years ago I went to my elementary alma mater to visit my old teachers. My grade two teacher, whose class I loved dearly, was among them, and we had a conversation that I have remembered for a long time.
My favourite class activity in grade two was a twofold delight. The first half of the block of time was called “SQUIRT”: super-quiet uninterrupted reading time. The second half of the activity consisted of our teacher reading aloud from a book (usually one chapter of a young readers’ chapter book) while we helped ourselves to the craft supplies cupboard. It was a weekly pleasure, as I recall, to rifle through the scraps of wallpaper and cardboard tubes and old greeting cards and Popsicle sticks, and to glue something crazy together while being read to.
When I visited this teacher, I expressed my long-held fondness for SQUIRT and crafting. She responded, in sorrowful and wistful tones, that a few years ago she had put an end to the after-SQUIRT free-craft time. Why? The children were constantly interrupting her reading to ask what they should be making and how they should do it. “They just couldn’t latch on to the open-ended nature of the project,” she said. She went on to say:
It got to the point where it wasn’t worth doing anymore; they weren’t listening to the story and they were becoming anxious about a craft activity that originated as a reward for a good week. These are seven-year-olds. Where have their imaginations gone?
I’m not sure who was sadder: her, for having watched children change in this way year after year, or me, for having to hear about the end of a beloved era.
My visit was otherwise delightful, and I’m very glad I was able to see this teacher and express my appreciation for the experience I had in her classroom. Thank goodness for good teachers!
On a related note, I always cry when I watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. Tears every time! It’s very reliable.
“If I’m supposed to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division.”
“Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want…. Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”
—”Mr. Holland’s Opus”
Perhaps I’ve only whetted your appetite, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the next installment of “Art: A Lost Art?“.
Go on to part two.