August 22, 2014


NOT MY NORMAL POST...THINKING TOO MUCH I GUESS?!?! HA HA  This post was rattling around my head as my student teacher was instructing...and I kept hearing children say "I CAN'T"..."I DON'T KNOW HOW"..."IT'S TOO HARD"..."I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO"..."I DON'T HAVE ANY IDEAS".  The listen featured great questions...good images to jump start things...tied to personal experience...and yet this is what the students were muttering.  So below is what I wrote in the journal I keep for my student teachers of their experience.  

It's official...creativity is dead!  Video may have killed the radio star...but I feel video games, TV "babysitters", and the internet/social networking may be to blame for this atrocity. 
I guess it is also official...I'm an OLD FART!! ha ha  This sounds like something uttered in every generation by the generation before it.  Maybe they were right? 
 With every advancement....there are steps backwards.
In providing(indulging) our children in all that was not available to us...have we stripped them of their natural curiosity & creativity?

How do we as art educators (and all those amazing people out their who desire to grow their students & children in the arts) ignite the imaginations & creativity of this generation?  I'm not talking about "entertaining" them.  Entertaining them is partly to blame for getting us to this pickle in the first place!  I'm do we reach deep down into the pure heart of a child and remind them of the magical world they live in.....where anything is possible if they can just imagine it.  Is it building confidence? Teaching fearlessness?  



  1. That is such a tough topic. I get the "I can't"s the "I don't know how"s and the "its too hard"s every day. I teach in a school with high academic expectations its a magnet school but the population of our school comes predominately from the lower income areas. Our kids are smart yes, but they are also struggling with real life problems that they shouldn't be. In my short 3 and 1/4 years I've had homeless kinder and 1st graders, multiple parent deaths, abuse, and suicide attempts(by students) all with kids only in k-5. I feel like all the "entertainment" that is available today provides such a instant release of stress for my kiddos that when I ask them to spend more than a few minutes on a task they get overwhelmed. This year our schedules have been changed. Instead of 45 minute classes we have 55. I have started breaking my class into chunks and it seems to be working. We spend 5-10 minutes working in their sketch books, 5 reviewing the artist or goal of our big project, then 15-20 on the big project, then we clean that up and spend 5 more back on their sketchbooks before cleaning up and leaving. we've had two full weeks of school and we've already blown through what we did last year in the first 6 weeks. its a little chaotic but I'm loving it. Ive even managed to read 3 books to the kinders and firsts.

    I have heard the kids discuss things I didn't learn about until high school. Its a scary world out there today.

  2. That is terrible, Claire! I feel so bad for all the sorrows in their young lives! What a horrible way to grow up. It sounds as if you are keeping them interested in art, though, and that can be a great release.

    Mr. E, sometimes I think the kids expect perfectionism in everything they do, and when they cannot achieve it, or even think they cannot, it sets off alarms. The other subjects are viewed differently and are frequently based on their intelligence. If they can't do an art project the right way, they think they aren't smart enough, so they don't want to try. There is a lot of pressure on some of these kids to get the best grades in ALL areas! Reading between the lines, I see, "I can't fail!" and "I don't know how to best less than the best!" and "It's too hard to see someone else succeed when I am not as good at it!"

    My motto in class is, "It's okay to make mistakes!" I often tell them that we learn more from mistakes than from successes. When they ask, "Is this right?" I ask them if they are doing the technique the correct way and trying their best. If so, then it is right. They are getting the idea and feeling more comfortable expressing themselves without fear of criticism or scorn.

    However, back to your point, the students who spend more time outdoors or playing in other ways seem to have a more varied imagination than those who spend a lot of time on video games, I believe. Although some games seem to spark the imagination. I wonder....

    Good discussion point! Thanks for the post!

  3. I'm a speech therapist, not an art educator, but I agree with you 100%. I love to do art projects with my preschool kids, and feel that art projects stimulate language development and boost self-confidence. I have been telling parents for years to take the batteries out of toys - - let the kids make the noises of the cars & trucks. I try to tell the parents that videos and tablets are mostly passive learning and encourage conformity, but I think it's a losing battle. Keep up the good work - I love your ideas and your blog.

  4. I agree Me E. Just today I had a high school student say they give up while doing a grid drawing. Its like the moment it's not easy and fast they don't want to do it. They also do not like the idea of things not looking right the first time. I'm always having to remind them that erasers were made because sometimes we have to do something more than once before we get it right. I hate when I hear "I Can't!" It's too hard!!"
    I just switched to a Choice-Based classroom with my Art 2 class and I'm really pushing that as an artist they need to collaborate and solve problems. So instead of saying I can't, find a way to solve that problem. I have found that my kids are really taking to the switch to a Choice-Based classroom. There seems to be more buy in and ownership in their projects. I'm also happy to see my students working together and pushing themselves and I'm hearing less of "I can't!" I'm trying to encourage a studio setting were failure is not bad....just a part of the learning the process.
    Thanks for the post!

  5. I agree with you all and I see it too! I think so many kids respond this way because in art they aren't getting the instant gratification that one gets using an iPad, smart phone, or other technological device. I am always pushing them to use their problem solving skills, because that's what they are losing if they are just giving up. That's when they stop being creative too. I would like to add that I think creativity will make a comeback as long as we keep being consistent!

  6. This is a problem I see too! It drives me crazy to hear "I can't" or when kids give up! I just read "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess and am thinking we need to step up our game as art educators! I really love that he has soo much energy and passion for his teaching and I want to step up a few things in my room. I'd like to think that my classes are excited to enter my room (it is art after all) but I do have to build up some entertainment to keep them going. They are just not as motivated as kids in the past. When life gets hard, they quit. It is sad. I want them to know that I am here to support them and that they are safe to make mistakes here. I start off by picking lessons that are highly successful for all and save the hard ones for later in the year when their confidence level is higher. Then I break those down into chunks. Some kids just need more modifications to have higher success. I am not saying I do it for them but I have to be creative in the ways that I present the material and cheer them on. Ultimately it is up to them though. We just have to be sneaky in how we motivate kids.

  7. In my opinion, it's not about a lack of creativity so much as a fear of being able to show it. I try to encourage an atmosphere that allows students to be able to use those risk taking behaviors. Their opinion is valuable, even if it's different from mine or their neighbor's. I often can be overheard saying something like " I don't know what you should do next, you are the artist, not me". Or " I wouldn't want you to tell me what to do in my picture, you should decide for yourself". They are tested, retested, then tested some more---- data, common core, TCAP, whatever. There is no room for experimentation or error in their daily academic life. I think it's hard for them to loosen up and be comfortable with the fact that there is no one right answer or solution to artistic problems. To me, that's why art is so important in the curriculum.

  8. I think a big part of the lack of creativity is because of the immediacy of information that technology provides.. You'd think having instant access to information would help, but instead sometimes I think it hurts, It makes children/adolescents impatient, and if something isn't instantaneous or can't be accomplished immediately (as opposed to taking time, effort, perseverance, and oh no, mistakes!), they lose interest and give up. It's not an easy day and age to teach a hands-on, process oriented subject like art

  9. Yup. You've hit the nail on the head. Everything has to be instant gratification for today's kids, because that's what they are used to. They don't have to get up to change a TV station, they don't have to wait to get home to receive a call from a friend, they don't have to wait to get anticipated responses or invitations in the mail, they don't have to go to the library and dig through a pile of encyclopedias to get answers, they don't have to wait for photos to get developed, and they don't have to go to the store to shop for anything. And so on. Which is why I remained so adamant about keeping my art program hands-on and rarely using technology.

    As a parent, one of the best things I did was get my son involved with scouting. (I'm not getting involved in discussing debates over ethical/moral stuff here; it was never an encountered issue in my sons scouting experience, thank goodness.) He learned to appreciate and respect the out-of-doors, to work hard, and especially, he learned leadership skills. As a senior patrol leader and eventually an Eagle Scout, he'd tell you that scouting was probably the one thing that most prepared him for a leadership role in various aspects of his life including his career, and also gave him confidence and so much more.

    My point is, I guess, that whether it our own kids or our students, I'd encourage them to participate in something that will build these types of skills: scouting, church groups, 4-H, musical performance groups, and so on. Don't let kids spend their time out of school just playing with electronics and watching TV. Get them to DO something!

  10. I don’t think that all of these problems are brand new to the world. Yes a child want instant gratification but is something that is ingrained into our fiber as humans when we are born. Children want things instantly now as they did 100 years ago. Dewy even said that children need to learn to wait to eat as a way to combat that problem, (I think I might be mixing my educational theorists up). Lets also remember not all TV shows and video games are created equally. There is a good bit of difference between MTV and The History channel. I also hear my students say I cant or its too hard and it drives me up the wall. One of the big reasons I think they say it is they are so afraid to take a risk and possible fail. The way our schools are set up is very focused on getting the right answer one way and that there is only one right answer. So then they are forced or confronted with a situation where there are many different ways to arrive and many different right answers it makes them uneasy. I think they might get overwhelmed at all the possibilities and do not know where to start. Again the I cant is not really a brand new thing I feel. Whenever I talk to adult’s people who are my age or older say stuff similar to I cant? Most adults who I talk to when they find out that I am an elementary art teacher tell how nice that there still is art in school fallowed by how they can’t draw. Or they can only draw stick figures. I think that part of the problem is people don’t know why art is important and also people think that to be good at art you need to be talented. They don’t seem to get that artists are not always supper talented instead they work hard, think a lot and are not afraid to fail or make something ugly.