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Let Our Children Speak With HeArt: Beyond-Grades And Beyond-School
Graded-art system imposed at schools and arts learning center can be considered detrimental to a child’s intrinsic motivation to continue drawing as they grow. Drawing, a form of visual art should encourage the creation of thinking and communication that allows the children to speak from their heart. This study adopts reflexivity from the first author’s discouraging experience of art being graded during her childhood experience. It describes the arts syntegration model at a home-setting to promote thinking. This paper provides evidences that informal teaching beyond-school can promote significant creativity; especially for children between the ages of four and nine years.
Drawing adds a dimension not tapped by self-report or observation techniques, the dimension of fantasy and imagination. While the use of several measures is always recommended, drawing should without fail be one of them. Drawings are easy to obtain, since most children love to draw; they are especially valuable in the case of young children due to the limited language; they dig deeper into whatever aspect is being measured; and they seem to be able to plumb the inner depth of a person and uncover some of the otherwise inaccessible inside information. (Klepsch and Logie 1982;11)It is a very natural interest for all children to love telling stories and also to draw (Druin et al, 1997). Ling, the first author was no different. As she grew up, she had developed a strong interest to draw. Unfortunately, her interest towards drawing was diminished slowly due to the negative experience she had encountered along her journey to learn drawing from adults at schools and arts learning centers. According to her, they had constantly imposed the grading system onto her drawings:
In Malaysia, drawings, as one of the visual art form have been taught mostly at schools or learning centers which involved assessment and evaluation. It is then known as the graded artwork with the purpose of providing some form of judgment about the technical skills of drawing. Figure 1 shows Ling’s eldest son’s artworks at school and arts learning center with grades received. Is arts education should be about developing the artistic skills or to promote creative thoughts?
two sons (Hamo and John Isaac), and four daughters (Alyce, Theresa, Helen and Frances).HamoThornycroft took up their profession, while daughters Alyce, Theresa Thornycroft, and Helen Thornycroft were all artists.Ling shares on her artist’s experience to provide conceptual artistic ability to her sons, Samuel and Daniel. Besides than being disappointed with the constant judgment on the beauty of an artwork set by the Malaysia National Curriculum and arts learning graded-arts, she was inspired by Mary Thornycroft who uptake both the role of a professional sculpture artist also mother to four artists through home-schooling (McCracken, 1996). The study took place at home adapting concept from syntegration arts by integrating arts with life practical skills (Russell-Bowie, 2009). Ling has completed four years of Fine Arts degree and continues to work as a self-taught artist in photography and visual arts. In 2013, Ling undergo a professional training under Fresne, the co-author on arts in education in Mobile, Alabama.
A piece of artwork can go beyond imagination to communicate a person’s cognition and emotion. Malaysian and International artist, Hasnul (2008:27) adhered primarily to the conceptualism, or the ability to think and later convey the idea of art as the foremost approach for children. During his years as an Electronic artist also father of three daughters, Hasnul (2012) has never forsaken their interest to draw. He was found to demonstrate his encouragement for his daughter’s interest to continue drawing: “I love your drawings, genius. And yet you get a ‘D’ for your drawing! Life is full of funny twist. This is a reminder for you. You are genius, don’t let any grades or marks or whatever people say take that away from you.” (Facebook, 24 April 2012) Hasnul (2011) has blogged that children have always produce drawings that are “serendipity, organic randomness, unpredictability, chance, coincidence, ‘go-with-the-flow’, providence, accidental, raw and unpretentious.” Neven (1996) impulses that everyone, including adults should strive to nurture the love and appreciation of art with children because it does not only encourages them to draw but further nurtures and instils the interest to continue drawing. As temptation to compete art drawing academically at school or art drawing centres, the assessment and evaluation on arts can be very harmful to children (Eisner, 2002; Bursuck & Dennis, 1997). In fact, to encourage the children to draw like an artist by practice can brings dynamic and fun to the traditional teaching that often depicts boredom in some academic work (Graham, 2009; Graham & Susan, 2010). We therefore, do not recommend graded-art to begin as young as twelve years old.
My first attempt to analyze their ability to express their thinking was through the mural painting activity at my house, the car porch. I encouraged them to express their feeling about our new house. Samuel Ong, who was 8 years old, expressed two ideas. The first was about his happy house. He started with a flower, building (our house), sun and the word ‘Happy House.’ Later, he completed his drawing with a person holding on a globe as indication of our earth. Daniel Ong, aged 5 could not figure out what to draw, so he observed and imitated his brother. He tried very hard to imitate his brother’s drawing. However, his conceptual thinking is unique in its own way. As he drew he talked about many things he wished can be visualized on the wall. He started with the green object (claimed to be a train but failed to draw it so he leave it as it is), a tower (he claimed it to the Malaysia’s twin tower), a blue building (claimed it to be our house), a happy man and a happy blue face. However, he got upset after drawing the blue man because he thinks that it was not nice. So, he scribbled through the blue man. I tried to stop him from destroying his work but he continued and said, “It is not nice.” Then he asked me to draw a train for him. I remembered he asked me to draw “nicely.” During the mural painting, Then, I did something that an adult would always do, trying to improve the Daniel’s drawing. I have though I saw the nakedness of the happy man and added a hat on top of the head. However, Daniel did not like what I did. He thinks I was destroying his “human being.”
As a form of expression, drawing or visual art may be better guided than taught. In Ling’s attempt to ask Daniel to draw how he feels about their new house, Daniel was not ready to think but to imitate his brother. However, as soon as he feels comfortable with the environment, he started to draw based on his thinking. In arts, although “children are sensitive to and influenced by parents’ attitudes, beliefs, and values, [they] do not automatically mimic those attitudes, beliefs, and values” (Walter, 1986: 80). We should encourage our children to produce art directly from their heart, receiving endless encouragement from the adults viewing the child’s art. Unfortunately, Moelyono (Mohamed Saat, 2006) stresses that adults tendency to make negative remarks regarding a children’s artwork, whether it is ‘wrong’ or ‘not pretty.’ will discourages the love of art in children. By avoiding negative labels, people indicate an understanding of the different levels and developmental stages of children’s art. On the next attempt to guide on the artistic process, Ling described her philosophical approach to her son’s request: “I was careful this time not to put any of my personal adult judgment on his work. Without any assessments or grading that will undermine the importance of how he think and express. We may never know if one day, he would grow up and built a cable car that allows all human to witness the undersea creatures.”
The tone of encouragement to nurture art at home establishes the high or low valuation of creativity within the child. Ling constantly probe into her children’s thinking with constructive questions and a pair of listening ears:He came to me and talked about his drawing. He started by telling me each objects he drew. When he goes through each sea creature below, I was curious where he has seen them. He showed me his book, BukuBestari Kata KBSR Tahap 1 published by Tunas Pelangi.
Pointing at his book, he spelt out his concern of not able to draw the some sea creatures in detail which I highlighted with red on Figure 14. The top read is a cable car (he has ride on it previously) while the bottom is a King Crab (page 78). Every child has their own potential to create works of art, regardless of their level of production. Teachers and parents should carefully nurture their children to develop their own thinking in art because research has shown that they can convey their thoughts effectively with art instead of spoken language (Bae, 2009). Art is knowledge (Young, 2001). Trading creativity for assessment diminishes the reason to think also the confidence and potential of the child. Parents do play a very important role in nurturing the love and appreciation of art in children. The discouraging grades on artwork imposed in schools and arts learning centre can be replaced by focusing on the ability to think and to express through the artwork as early as in preschool (Kocer, 2012). Caring for the approach, children will sense the presence of art energy and appreciate the venue of freedom and expression through art. Then, they can begin to produce intuitively many wonderful works of art.
This paper has shared on few artists including Ling, who has encouraged their children to express themselves from the heart which yield meaningful artwork. Let the children continue to imagine, create a fantastic journey, and daydream. Let them frame it within their context. Actively encourage the children to speak through the language of art from their heart. This will produce a generation that can think creatively and innovatively.
Let Our Children Speak With HeArt: Beyond-Grades And Beyond-School
L I N G S I E W W O E I A , J E A N N E T T E F R E S N E BA M U L T I M E D I A U N I V E R S I T Y , F A C U L T Y O F C R E A T I V EM U L T I M E D I A , 6 3 0 0 0 C Y B E R J A Y A , M A L A Y S I AB U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H A L A B A M A , C O L L E G E O F A R T S A N DS C I E N C E S , M O B I L E , A L A B A M A , 3 6 6 8 8 , U N I T E D S T A T E SLET OUR CHILDREN SPEAKWITH HEART:BEYOND-GRADES AND BEYOND-SCHOOL
I would imitate cartoon characters but I do not know how to do itcorrectly. My parents knew I have the passion for drawing so theysend me to some art classes. These are the classes where I learntto draw and to paint, apart from school lessons. Unfortunately, atthe end of all the classes, they were never judged as a gooddrawing because it was always graded as Bs and sometimes Csby the art teachers. Since young, I always perceived B asmoderation – a judgment of how well I can draw, what more tothink of a C. As much as I wanted and tried to get an A for mydrawing, it was still B that I have received. With the constantdiscouragement, I have replaced my interest with photographybecause it would always produce realistic visuals.
INFORMAL TEACHING APPROACH:ARTS SYNTEGRATIONThe study took place at home adapting concept fromsyntegration arts by integrating arts with life practicalskills (Russell-Bowie, 2009).Lifepracticalskillsspontaneous
RESEARCH DESIGN: REFLEXIVITYThis paper adopts the reflexivity method because itdepicts a self-desired act in the pursue of thisresearch study which took place at Ling’s home inMalaysia (Medved et. al., p, 109.Reflexivity exists as moments in time—biographicaland historical—as well as in the inexorable currentsof personal and theoretical reflection. Every daywe socially construct and embody forms ofknowledge just as we socially construct andembody our own identities as scholars, teachers,sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, and friends.Medved :p.111
FROM THE PAPER…• The natural home-based setting could often tell much moreoriginal behaviour and thinking of a child as compared withmost observational settings that were carried out at schools inthe controlled situation that often limits the children actionbased on the researchers’ direct instruction (Druin et. al.,1998).• The home-based study could also unleash a child’s thinkingthrough arts integration through the daily life experience(Baxter, 2012).• Hsieh (2012) observed that after-school children who weregiven a comfortable learning environment can indeedexpress themselves well because of the authority over thechoice of their subject.• What further interest Ling to partake in this research methodwas the informal arts education at home can bondrelationship among the mother and children (Shenker, 1990).
SELF-INITIATIVE:CREATIVEWORK BYSAMUELFrom abstract to concrete
SELF- INITIATIVE:CREATIVE WORK BY DANIELFromconcretetocreativityFromcreativity toinnovation
LET OUR CHILDREN SPEAKWITH HEARTLet the children continue to imagine, create a fantasticjourney, and daydream. Let them frame it within theircontext. Actively encourage the children to speak throughthe language of art from their heart. This will produce ageneration that can think creatively and innovatively.Beyond-Grades And Beyond-School