This is what remains of the thread previously discussing our concerns and solutions for the children's learning programs. Just to update those of you who knew there were problems: the problems are solved. Taliesin's schedule has changed, but we're now happy with the program he attends, which I am not going to name here, anymore.
First of all, Taliesin has a wonderful art class, which I am not criticizing at all with this post. He enjoys it thoroughly, and although they have been doing a unit of very "advanced" art concepts, they are now moving on to some more free curriculum, both of which Taliesin loves.
But I must say this: It irks me terribly to have learned that the reason they have such "advanced" subject matter in Taliesin's art class is because parents requested it, originally. I have had those parents come to my classes, too. I have had parents tell me their children can draw like Robert Bateman, and they'd like me to hone those skills; I've had parents tell me my classes are "too free", "not advanced enough", and other such nonsense. I have, for the most part, grown strong enough to say "no", to politely explain my educational philosophy, and to explain why I will never, in my lifetime, teach a child to "draw like Robert Bateman". Those were, I must add, sometimes the same parents who never showed appreciation for their children's work, who even had their children tear up or throw the work in the garbage, because it wasn't "good enough".
I realize that not everyone shares my beliefs, but it is my firm belief that all people, but especially children, gain most in art education from inspiring projects given with freedom and encouragement, as well as a huge dose of experimentation. It’s not so much my job as a teacher to cause my students to learn established concepts as it is to inspire them. That is, to cause them to want to do -- to participate, to experiment, to express themselves and to research their own deep notions and experiences – they may not ever learn to understand or imitate other art movements or styles, but they will surely develop their own, and in doing so, may be inspired to look back at others’, as well.
It’s hard not to rant on this, because I care so deeply about what I do, and I know very well how rewarding it is to see my children excel at something, and to want to encourage them to learn to write, draw, calculate, sing, etc. like adults do. But learning to copy, or bypassing a natural progression of self-discovered learning in favour of teaching "higher levels" is not something I will teach, nor is it something I want taught to my children -- I can’t believe it’s right.
And I've had enough highly pleased and enthusiastic parents come and thank me, that I'm quite sure I'm not alone in this.
Different strokes, as they say... but I'm firmly in mine.