The death of the individual.
People die in various ways. Most nowadays die of old age. Some, however, are killed, as children, by their education. I saw something recently that made me reflect how dangerous “education” can be. It was a simple thing really, something that most might overlook – but to me it was quite disturbing. It was a school art exhibition.
Now, you may be wondering why and how I could find a school art exhibition disturbing. It was, actually, more than disturbing – it was saddening too. What provoked me to feel so was the manner in which the works had been carried out, and the way in which the children had been taught. The works were all in the style of Paul Klee, the painter. There was, perhaps, the work of a dozen children, each absolutely indistinguishable from the next, because all sought to be imitations, as perfect as they could render, of the style of Paul Klee. There were other artists too, in this exhibit, who had been imitated and echoed. It was dispiriting. Each child had been taught to give up their instinctual creativity and in its stead, taught that they must copy to create art. Every child, in that school, under this particular teacher, had had their creativity extracted from them. Not a single piece had anything unique, special, or in fact, artistic about it. They were all slavish copies.
I should point out at this point, that this is not a criticism of Asian schooling, in particular, although Asian schools are just as guilty of this practice – for this school was an international school in Malaysia (I shall not name it). Thus, it is clear that the policy of encouraging students to copy, has crossed over into the international schools.
To teach a child that to create is to copy, is to kill something very fundamental to the mental health of the child. In a way, it kills all that is special about them. These children would be better off not having any art lessons at all. Being taught in this way, ensures, indeed absolutely guarantees that none of these children will become artists. True artists never copy – their art emerges from within them, and is not dependent on external models. None of these children had the outlook of an artist. They had the perspective of photocopiers.
It is hard to understand, for me, at least, how their teachers and their school can consider instruction in imitation, to be an art lesson. Art is not about imitation – true art, at least. Those who think art is about imitation haven’t really understood it.
I have some advice: if your child ever comes home with an artwork in the style of or manner of a famous artist, please withdraw them from the art class. They will learn nothing there, they will, in fact, unlearn their innate creativity. Art lessons like that, will turn your child into a derivative clone. They are better off with no art lessons at all, if all they are teaching is the art of the plagiarist.
Sometimes the best education, is no education at all. It might be hard to accept that, in this world of high pressure schooling and home tutors. However, it might be worth your time to have a good look at the way your children are being taught. Are they learning to copy or create? If the former, no school, would be better than that kind of school.
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