I currently host a weekly teen drawing group at my studio, which of course includes Tal, since drawing is one of his passions, and he's finally a bonafide pre-teen. They're not all homeschooled, but definitely a bunch of free-spirited and creative kids (no wonder, when you remember they love art enough to ask their parents to put them in this rather quirky and serious mentoring situation). This is what makes the group such a success - open-minded kids and a willingness to explore.
And mostly, they make me happy.
Here's a photo from yesterday's drawing group. I had
the kids sitting opposite each other working with charcoal to
explore the lines and shadows of each other's faces in their
sketchbooks. I suggested they try drawing with their fingers
instead of straight charcoal sticks.
The boy on the left is 13; Tal is the youngest, at 10 and there were 3
girls sitting around the table, as well. And I said "you don't
necessarily need to be drawing a whole face; you could just play
with it. Like only work with the nose, for example."
And the boy on the left said "Only draw with our nose?"
To which I of course smiled, and said "whatever you like!" And he
did. And so did Tal. Great hilarity and smudging of charcoal
ensued, and they made lovely portraits of each other, while some
of the girls looked on, perplexed, and one created the blackest
hands possible. The boys discovered that chins are a
particularly useful drawing tool to get the texture of hair. This
was only this group's second drawing session, but I can see we're
going to do fabulous things!!
Then this morning I was sent this article from a fellow homeschooling parent: "Are Homeschooled Kids Weird?"
It's a great, simple article, and I do think it's an important subject. My son is no stranger to criticism, having chosen to wear his hair long and loose throughout his life. It's mostly adults who malign him for it; kids just mistake him for a girl and then apologize when they're corrected. Adults often tell him he should cut his hair or actually refuse to believe he's a boy (yes! multiple times!). So he's exceedingly careful how much of his weirdness he lets show. My daughter, on the other hand, is totally unbridled in her creativity, going shirtless in the city, taking giant flailing leaps in her Irish dancing class, while everyone else stands stiffly at attention, and flatly telling her friends about the various social conventions that just don't concern her. I love that she's proud of her uniqueness, but this isn't about self-esteem. This is about evolution.
Simply, how can we expect to evolve if we are just following the status quo? How can we dance with ingenuity if we are chasing pre-defined success or expectations? Nobody expects ingenuity; it just is. And I hope more of us are open to this crazy dance, to popping open these gifts of the unexpected and letting them mess up our plans!