Saturday, August 20, 2016

Expressing Thoughts

I was looking through my collection of photographs from my recent learning experiences with preschoolers and kindergartners. I came across this photo.

I obviously saw it when it was created because I took a photo of it. But I didn't ask the artist anything about it. I don't remember seeing it until I looked at the photograph. But it conjures up all kinds of questions.

What does it mean? What was the child thinking about or emulating when she created it? Was she working to understand the past versus the present? Old and new? Does she really know the meaning of "vs" or did she copy that from something else? What does it mean?

I cannot go and ask the artist now because there's no identifier on the art--I don't know who drew it. And even if I did, I doubt she would remember exactly the significance of the words and numerals and lines she drew. Or maybe she would.

As intriguing as I find this particular art piece, it reminds me that every line and letter that kids make on paper is significant. It is an exploration of ideas, an expressing of thoughts. Just as I ponder things here by typing and arranging words and sentences, kids ponder through swipes of a paintbrush or stroke of a crayon. They think; they ponder; they experiment; they express.

It seems that our schools are often hyper-focused on reading and writing and math. They stress academic performance on a narrow band of skills. They ignore (and even eliminate) art and music and creative expression. And yet, these means are may be the best way for kids to ponder and internalize important concepts and learning.

We had fun in our Art Camp this summer. And kids in my church classroom enjoy the opportunities to create from various supplies. But, as I see this picture and the others, I further realize that real thinking and learning happened then, too.

Don't forsake the crayons and paint. (Or the blocks and music and other creative endeavors.) These help kids think and express those thoughts.

And lead to some wonderful insights (even if we don't always know what those are ourselves).

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