Saturday, July 24, 2010

Soapbox: Art, Winning and Self Expression

Title: First Steps (after Millet, detail), c.1890 by Vincent Van Gogh

Today I had an interesting day, and when I say interesting I mean I was almost ready to take a paint brush and paint a woman's forehead. Not really. Ok, maybe. In my mind it sounded good.

Will this have anything to do with primary? Yes. But patience my friend, patience. I need to build up the emotions and anticipation.

We go to the library for a free painting activity. Background, I love art. My girls have been to many a museum and have done many a project. I am a firm believer in art as an expression not a science, especially for little ones. Art should be enjoyable not something where the adult does it for them or criticizes their technique. So here's when the drama started, the art teacher took the paint brush out of my child's hand and said, "No. It's an OK sun but I want the whole paper yellow."- to which she then painted over my daughter's exceptional (not merely OK) sun. Well, mama bear came out, and believe me, I'm a laid back person. It takes a lot to get me to the point where I'll go postal. I listen to Bob Marley and dance to 80's music with my girls on a daily basis, we're free lovin' spirits.

The pointer finger and hand on the hip came out as I told the eccentric that Christina's art is her art, not the teachers. She is allowed to do it herself, how she wants. Because art is subjective, the beauty of art is different to everyone. The teacher told me that my daughter would never win any competitions if she didn't learn how to paint with technique. (Gagging sounds, anyone? Anyone?) She suggested I make her paint with one color, then let it dry for 10 minutes, have her come back and paint with a different color, then let dry for 10 minutes, repeat, blah blah blah etc. I guess I should add the fact my child is 5. Doesn't that sound really fun for a 5 year old to do? She just sat for 10 minutes of "talking at" and now she's going to sit some more! And be told how winning is just so important in life!

Where do we get off telling kids not to discover or learn for themselves?
Who are we to answer questions that kids can answer for themselves?

What was that?

We should never take a paint brush from a child and paint over their masterpiece. Sheesh, and here comes the connection now.... Just like we should not talk over children in sharing time. I would like to state clearly, Sharing Time is a time where children should be allowed to express themselves and enjoy feeling the spirit. They have so much to share and we need to facilitate opportunities for them to do so!

My pet peeve in life is when people gab. Children don't need 10-20 minute long explanations or talking at's. They learn quickly and they do so best when they aren't sitting bored out of their gourd.

Children can write their own talks, as early as they learn how to speak! Let them discover early on what it's like to pray, receive inspiration and then teach others by the spirit. I mean really, Mormon was 10 years old when he was told to witness the downfall of the Nephites and then record it on the plates later on down the road. Really? I'm convinced we have tons of little 10 year old Mormon's around us, but we're not giving them the opportunity to speak, because we're speaking over them.


Jeremiah 1:6-7 " Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."

Now before I get some off the wall comment, yes I realize there needs to be balance. We talk and teach, bear testimony etc. I'm just redirecting our attention to the fact it's called "Sharing Time" not "Adult Lecture Series" time. And in life too- are you really listening to children? Are you hearing what they are saying and trying to talk with them not at them?

Van Gogh was never fully appreciated until after he was dead.
Let's discover the color, the life and the unique expression of each of our dear sweet children so they don't end up one day hacking off their ear.

Can I get an amen?
Amen, sista.

** And as I was talking with my brilliant little star about how the teacher was bonkers, how winning is not what is most important about art, but finding the joy in creating- she said, quote "I know mommy. We need to go back and tell the lady I already won a coloring competition. And I won by coloring how I wanted to color not by how she told me to do it."

Way to make a point child, way to make a point.


Anonymous said...

Not only am I annoyed when the primary presidency yaps forever at the kids...but I'm especially annoyed when they yap with each other {sitting up there in their front-row seats}when I'm trying to do singing time with the kids.

Come on! Can't they sing the songs too? Or go sit with the kids.

Yes...I have some pretty strong feelings about those three yappy (but absolutely lovely and funny) ladies. If you're reading this - listen-up!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said about it being sharing time. I hadn't thought of it that way before. You know, when you are talking about the gold plates and the littles all raise their hands to tell you they love to color with the gold crayon or that they have a gold pony at home or that they saw a person at the store with a gold tooth. You are right though, if we don't invite them to share about their thoughts during time like that,why are they going to want to share their thoughts later when they have questions about drugs or why do we wait to date until we are 16 and why can't I wear a shorter skirt. Amen sista! (lol)

Mary said...

Great reminder!

Terri said...

You are sooooo right!!! And I think your daughter is very clever in saying she needed to go back and tell that teacher about already winning a colouring competition!!!(Just to let that teacher know, that you can colour how you want and still win!!!) I also agree with Bekah about letting the children tell us about things that they can relate the lesson too. eg, gold crayon, gold tooth etc!!!

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Anonymous- I had a neighbor who had a dog that did nothing but yap. "Muffy". Not only would Muffy yap, but the neighbor had a shrill high pitched voice who would scream at the dog. Very disturbing. I feel your pain :)

Sister Bekah- What wonderful connections the children made! Love the gold tooth one.

Sister Mary- Love your name. Can't go wrong with La Madre.

Sister Terri- Thanks, I think my child is pretty clever, but I am extremely partial!

Kim said...

Amen!!! This is awesome and I'm going to pass it on to the rest of our Primary Pres.

Tori said...

Amen, amen, amen. There's nothing wrong with a little humor in primary. I love it when a 3 year old tells me he can ride his bike with out training wheels. That's awesome. Then you just move on.

Brooke said...

I love it. Thanks for sharing.

The Coleman Family said...

Thanks for all of your great primary ideas! I especially needed this reminder . . . it's easy to get caught up in teaching or getting an important message across to the kids. But, all my "yapping" isn't worth anything if they don't see how much I love them and care about what they have to say too! Thanks!