Thursday, October 23, 2008

Imagination or Realism?

In my older son’s kindergarten classroom, two wires are strung diagonally across the room to display artworks of the kids. Normally, I only look for whatever my son has done, and maybe look at the ones on either side to see what the other kids are doing. But a couple of days back, I had time on my hands, so spent time examining every artwork as I would in a museum.
There were too distinct styles. Half the kids had drawn perfect landscapes, and had covered every inch of paper with colour, the other half had drawn and coloured random figures and the teacher had written short sentences next to each of them.

My son’s artwork (predictably) had a snake wanting to fight the lizard who intended eating the snake. It also had a snail that was planning to eat a rose plant, and a spider, a butterfly and what looked like a mountain range.

It was crudely drawn but the stories left me enthralled. As did many of the other stories that the children had told. A smart publisher could make an entire story book out of just those pictures.

But as I moved to the other side of the room, I saw beautifully coloured blue skies, trees that were green and not yellow, flowers that looked like picture book flowers are supposed to look. ‘Who do these kids draw and colour so well, when my son refuses to do so’, I thought to myself, before consciously banishing the thought as unworthy.

Gradually, a pattern started emerging – the kids in my son’s morning batch all drew pictures that told stories, the ones in the afternoon batch (where my son had been the previous year) created aesthetically appealing pictures.

My son was not colouring in the sky, because he had not been taught to – his teacher was too busy encouraging him to tell stories and recording them.

Suddenly, those perfect landscapes no longer seemed as perfect – they spoke not of artistic abilities, but of imagination being fettered by education. I would much rather my son’s imagination soar than that he produce copybook perfect pictures.

Imagination over Realism, any day, for me.
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Adi said...

The drawings are reaaallly cuteee !! :)

Natasha Ramarathnam said...

Thanks, Aditya.
I need to upload the new lot of pictures - they are getting more and more imaginative by the day :-)


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