Approaching Creativity in the Classroom

Art classes aren’t necessarily for teaching creativity, but rather encouraging students to be creative. Sure, sitting someone down and telling them how to draw a tree or telling them what colors to use would be “teaching art.” At a young age, this sort of introduction to art can be beneficial, pushing students to learn the basics before experimenting for themselves. However, art classes that are less structured and focus more on interpretation and self-expression become more important as students begin to develop a sense of individuality.

I actually quite enjoyed art classes throughout elementary and middle school. I like to draw and paint and having what I considered a “break” from fact-based core classes was great. I had time to relax and do something that I liked a few times a week. The problem however, is that whenever I am told what to do, the fun disappears. If I get a list of things to include or am told what technique to use, I lose interest in what I am creating. Advice is good. Inspiration is good. How can one benefit from creating something that is not their own?

I find that the problem with most art classes is rooted in the amount of rules that come along with the assignments. You’re given a project with certain guidelines: use these colors or this technique. Often times theses projects lack flexibility. By the end, all of the students have relatively the same project, colors, and concept. At what point do you get to create something by and for yourself? When can you approach a project in the way you think is best rather than in the way you are told to approach it? Art classes are only beneficial when they allow students to do these things. There is no “wrong” way to make art, therefore rules in art are unnecessary and invalid.

With the priority of classes being ability for students to work freely, I feel that art itself can become more enjoyable. Students are no longer required to follow instructions and can instead create as they please. This free-form environment not only allows for more self-expression, but further encourages students to find new ways to make decisions and communicate messages visually. These skills can be used not just in art but in, other situations as well. To create is really to provide and answer and figure out a solution to a problem. Students are forced to generate something that they feel is the “best response.”

You can think that by simply creating something, you are being creative; in that case, anyone could be described as such. For some it comes naturally and for others it requires a little more effort. With art classes setting limitations on a student’s ability to produce pieces which stem from their own ideas, that “creativity” can no longer be linked to “individuality.” Imagine walking into a museum full of the same artwork. How much would you pay to see a walls full of the same picture?

Thumbnail photography and art by Mariana Coelho

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