The tension between the two is something I think about from time to time when planning and teaching my kindergarten art classes. Our most recent art lesson brought the topic to mind once again.
Yesterday the kids completed their self-portraits, and as always, the end results are so very fun.
To start the lesson, we talk about how we all have different face shapes, and we look around the room to compare our face with the faces of our friends. Then we look at a diagram which shows the location of features on the face. Each student has a mirror so they can look carefully at their own image and draw what they see on their paper.
This is always one of my favorite projects of the year. I love the way each portrait seems to reflect so much of the students’ individual personalities.
Take this one, for example:
Some students are so conscientious, exacting, and careful with their portraits. (At the risk of over-generalizing, let me just say that when I say “some students” I usually mean “the girls.”) These students happily go along with the “rules” envisioned by their somewhat product-oriented art teacher.
Yet there are other students who seem to be far less concerned with the final product. These students are more, uhm, shall we say . . . actively engaged in the process itself:
“Sure, you can take my picture, but I must still continue to scribble and poke my masterpiece.”
And while some of the final results aren’t exactly what this art teacher envisioned, I must say that these little artists enjoyed the process of creating. And in THAT process, they helped nudge their teacher another inch toward more process-oriented instruction. So, off I go – to explore ways to harness the energy and self-expression flowing from these fabulous scribble portraits. Because if there was ever a class where you should be able to explore, experiment and toss aside the diagram, well . . . kindergarten art has to be it!