The one thing that makes a closed school building look lifeless and truly dead is the lack of student artwork on the walls.
For me, other than the people, the thing that's most interesting in any school is the student artwork on display.
If you've ever welcomed me into your school and wondered if I'm paying attention, don't worry. I am, I'm just also taking in the paintings and drawings and essays and woodcuts and banners that the kids in your school made.
It's no secret I love school buildings – heck, I wrote a book about 'em – but even those can rarely hold a candle to the creativity and passion that emanates from the children's art on the walls inside.
My kids – surely, like yours – love to draw and color and paint and cut paper and paste and fold and adorn. They concentrate and focus on it more deeply than on almost any other activity.
They pour it all down on the paper because no one has yet told them not to. No one has yet told them what's acceptable and what's not. No one has yet told them what's possible and what's not. Consequently, it's all possible, it's all acceptable. Art is a place to run free. And it's a place where all kids can experience satisfaction and pride.
And you can see it. Even if it's clear that the project is based on a specific assignment, it's inspiring to see the variety of students' responses to the directive.
Kids can learn a lot about other subjects, too, by making art about them. I'm reminded of the science-related paintings I saw hanging in Fernwood Montessori recently.
There's a lot we can learn from kids' approach to art.
My child's teacher says he draws too much. I understand her point and I know what she means, but I often wonder if that's really possible. Some of us work things out through words, others through math. Still others make sense of the world through art.
Look around your school. I sure hope there's art everywhere. Send me photos.
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