My dear child, you need to follow instructions to the T every single day, if not, you will be called careless. You must do your artwork as shown by the teacher, if not, your teacher will say that you cannot follow instructions. You must colour the elephant grey if not, it is said that you do your own thing in class. When asked, why you coloured the elephant blue, and you say ‘because I wanted to or it is a magical elephant’, your teacher will say that you are arrogant. When I am asked, how you are at home, I will say ‘you are a child, you are inquisitive, and you have a wonderful imagination. You are only five years old. My heart breaks that you must be confined towards functioning in this box world even though research shows that young children are inclined to be out-of-the-box thinkers (Kemple, 2017).
Dare to climb outside of the box, you will be labelled as careless, a child who cannot follow instructions and being sassy. So, dear student-teacher, please allow a child to be a child. Art is not art if it is copied from your image. Van Heerden and Veldsman (2020) state that “children can become accustomed to seeing adult-generated images and becomes frustrated when asked to create drawings of their own”. Art must be soothing, enjoyable and relaxing and not a nerve-wracking activity where the child worries if they have accomplished something that the teacher wanted them to reproduce (Van Heerden and Veldsman, 2020).
Art for teachers is often seen as a teacher-prepared activity, where the child must colour in, or cut out different parts and paste the parts onto a paper. As mentioned earlier, the teacher will usually put up an example on the board and children must colour in their pictures accordingly. This is not art, this is merely the replica of someone else’s work, with no creativity nor independent work involved.
Teachers are not fostering creativity, independence nor critical thinking skills with activities such as these. As teachers, we need to instill 21st Century skills within our children. How can we say that we are preparing our children for tomorrow if we only allow them to function within a box and not think/create for themselves? Remember that art is a Life skills activity and as such should be integrated into all subjects. For example, remember to promote language skills by asking the child to tell you about their picture. Provide your learners with multiple opportunities to create and problem solve and you will empower them to realise their potential.
Author: Dr Tiané Viviers