A Message to Teachers

Art cannot be separated from our deepest needs and desires, from our everyday lives, nor from the enjoyment of the world in which we live; therefore, art education should be an important part of every child’s training and development.

The two main objectives of art in the elementary school program are self-expression and a means of self adjustment. At this level, our teachers must recognize the child’s creative attitudes and imaginative thinking—for these are needs which must be expressed in order for the child to find self-satisfaction in creation, which is important in becoming a self-actualized person. Teachers must help students to be visually sensitive and responsive to the world around them so that their attitudes and imaginations will find a means for natural expression.

It is my thinking that all children are true artists. Many, even before they begin formal schooling, have their natural creative desires inhibited by the use of coloring books and by their parents’ inappreciative attitudes. Then, once in school, some books oftentimes are a great imperilment to the originality of children. This deplorable fact is far too prominent throughout the child’s school years.

Expression should come naturally, without the fear of inhibitions of school books, work books and coloring books and “hand-out” sheets to be colored in by the students, for the aim of education is the line of growth of the total organism, and art must not be left out. Instead, the children must be worked with in such ways as to bring about natural self-expression.

In the early grades of school, children are primarily concerned with manipulating art tools and with experimenting with colors on paper, usually with too many rules to follow and too much guidance from the teacher. By fourth-grade level, most children have developed the idea that the most important results are in the finished product. Instead of self-expression, it is pleasing the teacher, peers and parents that have become important, and that mind-set controls what is involved in the art activity. The pleasure of painting that the child experienced when younger is replaced by the pleasure of pleasing others. Creativity in art has been lost. During the growing-up years, the student has become interested in expressing his social, environmental, and home life and will produce paintings of church, circus, home, school activities, etc. These are the years when his paintings will reflect the first-hand experiences which he can see, hear, taste, see and smell; thus he will gain insight and development into his own needs to locate himself in life as well as in the lives of those around him. He has learned that “fitting in” makes for easier living, instead of remembering the joy of being the individual he once was in his earlier years.

Proper exposure to art helps a child to develop fine muscles, as well as to make body movements fluid and graceful, which makes for better equilibrium and confidence. Acquired qualities such as these carry over to many phases of life: all types of sports activities, music, dance and even future responsibilities such as important job interviews and simply presenting oneself to others. If free expression is allowed, it awakens in a child the ability to correlate eye, hand, brain and the imagination. It helps him to develop preference for color and form in the beauty of nature as well as in the creations of his fellowman. It contributes to more heightened and alerted sense of perception. It gives him an opportunity to utilize his leisure time constructively and enjoyably. In time, a child learns to set down his own reactions to his own experiences and in doing so, finds a deep self-satisfaction in locating himself in a world to which he belongs and to which he will inevitably contribute something of himself. The contributions he makes are of utmost importance in today’s world where so many choices have to be made, and where there can be so much confusion involved in making the right and wrong choices.

Thus, fine arts is also an aid to better citizenship. There is too much ugliness in our modern civilization as there has been throughout the history of time. This applies not only to the actions of men and women, but also in the hideous buildings, fountains, memorials, entertainment, landscapes and areas where the quality of life is less than pretty. A real appreciation of art among our young people will help greatly to improve our cities , our towns and the landscapes of our country sides. Then, too, with the alerted perception in natural art expression our children will have developed finer skills in good tastes for clothes, furniture, homes and other necessities of life. Some of our young men and women will become designers of the future. If art is allowed constructive individual expression in the schools, we can be assured of better industry, better fashions and better homes, all of which can help in the improvement of life for everyone.

All children have creativity, a gift which must be cultivated and nourished, but not squelched. Natural creativity can be encouraged by parents and teachers who understand the importance of freedom of expression and who are diligent in their efforts to further the growth of learning and development of character in children. A good teacher is one who works with young people in such ways that there will be creativeness. Since the aim of education is the line of growth of the total organism, teachers must plan and supervise activities which will insure our children the right to self-expression in art as well as the creation of products which will result in a better, more enjoyable world in which to live.