Killing creativity within the child

All this week I’ve been giving Chinese painting workshops for Year 4 -6’s.

I never hear words like ‘can’t, I’m no good at this, I’m not good at art’ because Chinese painting is spontaneous and the results immediate and gratifying. One becomes completely absorbed in the moment. I call it action meditation.

Yesterday though during my last class, I had a big disappointing moment.

This class had an emergency teacher. She was young, maybe newly graduated, maybe a tad too enthusiastic. She took it upon herself to go around and tell the students what they were doing wrong. For one she was not the expert, and two it is not my method of teaching. I teach through encouragement  because I know only too well how fragile egos can be.

I was horrified when I heard her say to a student that he had painted his bamboo stalks all wrong. It was the student’s final copy and the end of the lesson. I heard him say despondently ‘This is no good. I want to do another one.’

I hurried over and told him that I loved his brushstrokes, that it looked as if the bamboo was blowing in the wind, that it was a wonderful painting full of movement and atmosphere. But it was too late. The teacher had killed inspiration, confidence and creativity with just one simple sentence.

I kick myself for not taking the teacher aside and expressing my thoughts. I should have for the sake of future students who she may one day teach.

Here are some of the wonderful students’ paintings from the last few days.

They are all based on the one painting that I demonstrated at the beginning of the lesson but each one is so individual.

That’s what I love about teaching art.











2 thoughts on “Killing creativity within the child

  1. Gabi, I just love these pieces of art. What beautiful work you have inspired in these children.

    Shame about the teacher. Hopefully she was listening as you tried to salvage the student’s ego and enthusiasm. She could learn from that.

    Keep up the great teaching (to students and teachers!)

  2. As an Art teacher I am horrified by your young teacher, I always emphasize that there is NO wrong way to create. It is disappointing when someone in authority is both ignorant and arrogant . The students are lucky your were there

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