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Art And Empathy On The Younger Generations

 

I’ve used a lot of art mediums throughout my life’s journey. Honestly, I’ve scribbled…painted…glued…carved…molded…well, basically I’ve done it all. And I’ve come to the realization that my obsession isn’t with art, but more the freedom that it grants.

In any other avenue of life, there are rules and parameters.

How dull is that?

Rules and parameters mean…it’s been done before. Someone has claimed it. It’s theirs. They have shaped it to their liking, slapped a patent on it and now if you wish to re-create it…you are ‘borrowing’ an idea.

But with art there are no rules, regulations, parameters. Instead of a process void of thought and critical thinking, it’s the exact opposite.

People talk of the vanishing art programs. Education is slowly becoming strictly math, science, language arts and social studies. Such a strict focus on the ideas of others. Sadly, this is a mistake that will one day create a pit of regret.

The assumption is made that math creates a critical thinker. I propose that art creates critical thinking, enabling to use of math. It’s the reason why often time music=math minded individuals. It’s the ability the see the beauty in the numbers. Minus emotion, void of desire…who the hell actually wants to do all of those repetitive assignments created by minds past. If you love math…that’s an emotion. It’s a desire. Desire drives the art process. As well as the ability to calculate. These things take a sharpness. An ability to figure it out. As an artist can look at a blank sheet and envision a vast multitude of ways to give the paper a life of it’s own…So can too a mathematician, who views a series of random numbers and attempts to make sense of them.

Language arts, while teaching the works of others,  goes on the inclination that this will teach you how to create your own. True…Language arts does teach the necessary tools of the trade. But your creation comes from emotion. To grab the entire spectrum of emotion, you need to find the emotions first. You need empathy.

You need a trigger.

Triggers can be visual, heard, tasted, touched and smelled. And some people seem to feel an entirely new sense. A 6th sense. And in order to utilize these crucial senses, you must have an ‘artistic vision’. You need to become skilled at exploring your own mind. Unbutton the top button, so to speak. Basically…broaden your horizons. Be OF the world, don’t sit on the sidelines.

One of my most…if not the most, important lessons I’ve tried to instill in my kids is to keep an open mind. Experience the issue at hand, prior to casting judgement. And in some instances, it may not be possible to experience an event. Some events we truly wish to avoid! But we can relate out of empathy. Empathy can be awoken with art. It can bring tears and an understanding, as in these works by Bansky. His attempt to cast a light on the darkness that war brings to children, was sadly and  completely accomplished.

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Bansky

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While some argue that the photos are too graphic for children, I would argue that closing their eyes to history creates a path to repetition. Social Studies classes of today, are watered down ‘incomplete sentences’.  How about throw in some Bansky?  

Throw in truth…

Allow the future generation to visualize the consequences of their future actions. Allow them to empathize. It’s like the child who asks “Is the stove hot?” You say “Yes. Don’t touch it.” And of course, just to see if you’re jerking their chain, they touch it <—Insert screaming child here. 

They need to personally experience the sensation. Verbal or physical…they need a trigger.

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Bansky

You know… if I were a government hell bent on creating a generation of  loyal, non-empathetic and  unquestioning followers….I’d remove the art….

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Happy Valentine’s Day Fellow Bloggers

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(This was my gift from my husband this morning. I Love It!)


 

-Thank you for the wealth of information, creativity, emotion and inspiration. There’s nothing I look forward to more, than clicking on that ‘Reader’ link at the top of the page. The photography, the poetry, the stories of both sadness and joy. The recipes, the travel, the artistic creations….here’s to many more Valentine’s, filled with the immortality of written expression.

education, freedom, lifestyle, opinions, Politics, teaching

If Teachers Were Allowed To Teach

Am I the only one, whose child wants help with math, but then when I go to help…I have no idea what the hell they’re working on? Oh, BTW…he’s only 10. And it’s not that I’m a moron. It’s the ‘way’ he’s now being taught to do a problem. It’s known as ‘the common core’.

When I was a child, multiplication was learned with flashcards, critical thinking and basic logic. Now, it’s a process. As his mother, I’m expected to check over his homework, using my own previously learned math skills. And while I can tell him if the answer is right or wrong, the tears begin to flow when I can’t help him with the other portion of the problem. The ‘show your work’ portion. It sort of goes like this:

“Mom….is this right?”

“Yep…looks right to me”

“But what about my work…is that part right?”

“Ummm…well that part looks like Greek to me….what is all that stuff?”

“This is my work mom. The teacher says to show my work.”

“Yeah…but what is it? I have no idea what any of that means???”

“So you can’t check it? My teacher says you have to! She says our parents have to check our work every night!”

“Well….tell your teacher that I wasn’t taught this way. If she wants parents to check homework, then maybe the homework should match the way the parents were taught.”

This, of course, leads to waterworks and frustration. And why not? As a parent, I wind up feeling like my diploma was a useless piece of paper. My child winds up feeling like Mom is a total idiot. And at the end of the day, we go to our separate corners, feeling worlds apart in the university of life.

And then there’s the other stuff. Like the letter I received stating that my 15 year old needs glasses. Well duh! He has four pairs. There’s the weight checks, dental checks, drug tests….all of which seem to undermine my child’s actual physicians. Medical letters from school are completely redundant in this house. Why? Because I take my children to the doctor, as any mother would. We have optometrists, pediatricians, neurologists, dentists and more. And WOW do we have the bills to prove it! What with all the medical being done in school these days, on top of the medical being done at home, it’s a wonder there’s no actual money left to fund the actual ‘education’ part of school anymore.

The books are bland and repetitive. And with art and prose being in the eye of the beholder, I’d love to know which idiot decided Shakespeare had to be taught to every single generation EVERY SINGLE YEAR from 5th grade up?!?! How about the poets and artists of today? You know who needs to learn Shakespeare? People who plan to teach Shakespeare…to people who plan to teach Shakespeare….to…yeah, you know where I’m going with this.

I may be alone in this, but I’m not huge on grades either. I know…shame on me. But my reasoning is this. I know my children are intelligent. I also know, it’s EXTREMELY easy to learn, when it’s something you have an actual passion for. And grades are given for work produced and ‘how you show your work’. Sometimes an illness can drop a grade. It’s that simple. In that case, they’re being graded on ‘missing’ work and not what they know. Grades are inaccurate. And memorizing for the sake of tests, also pretty useless. There’s zero critical thinking involved there.

I have a child with Epilepsy. At one point, he was on medical home-bound. As his mother, it was my job to produce his assignments and help him with his work. In social studies, the first few chapters were on the different religions of the world. However, upon close inspection, they were all watered down and each chapter about 6 pages long. Loaded with ‘sunshiny  politically correct goodness and light’….ugh. Boring and inaccurate, I wanted to throw the useless book out the window. But instead, I decided…hey! Let’s make it a learning experience! With every religion we came to, we went to the library and got multiple books from multiple perspectives. We did Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and more. We looked at pros and cons, origins, wars and how each has affected history. We looked at the negative and the positive. And from there, a seed was planted. He decided on his own, just how far, he wanted to go. How much research to do and how he felt about what he read….and there was no grade involved in the process. You can’t grade someone on opinion. And if they don’t have ALL of the info…that is a GROSS MISCARRIAGE. It’s the mindset of…“You get to know, what I WANT you to know”….which is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of CRITICAL THINKING. 

Have you ever seen a question like this on a test?

“What do you think the author was trying to say?”

And then the teacher actually GRADES that answer! WTF? How can you grade someone on what they “THINK”????

But this is extremely common in schools. Then the teacher will write a small notation, telling your child what they are SUPPOSED to think…again…WTF??? And with that one small act…critical thinking flies out the window and the ‘memorization education’ begins.

And yet, the blame isn’t even with the teachers! Actually, most of the teachers HATE being told what to teach and how to teach it. And a vast majority, would love to set fire to the common core and go back to doing what they love…TEACHING! Schools are tired of being bullied by the state,  pulling kids out of class to weigh them and sending  home ‘fat letters’.  There are plenty of districts, mine included, that have amazing teachers. Teachers that can see through all the red tape and have found ways around it.

The problem is….us. For some reason , we have become a generation that requires judges, lawyers, mediators, police, psychologists, pills and more. With every court appearance, we tell big brother….’hey…we’re incapable of making our own decisions, we are unable to play nice, we cannot think on our own….please make a decision for us’.  We’ve not only allowed this….we’ve created this… and now we’re reaping the rewards of behaving like infants. Everything, up to and including our children’s food….how much and what type, is determined for us now. And we can blame Michelle Obama (for the whole food thing)  all we’d like, but let’s face it…we allowed it. With each policy we voted for…each policy that we, as paranoid freaks, assumed would protect us from this or that….we gave up another freedom. We voted ‘yes’ based on the behaviors of a few idiots.

We decided that if: X is always doing this bad thing with Y, then as W’s, we would give up OUR rights to Y, so that X could no longer abuse it. Therefore, forfeiting our use of Y. Now losing Y may not seem like that big of a deal….but it hasn’t been just Y has it? No…we’re slowly going through every letter of the alphabet, all based on the behaviors of X. If we keep going at this rate, freedom of speech will soon disappear, based on the fact that, well….there won’t be any letters left to form the words….

And what has this got to do with Teachers? Well, it’s their job to teach the alphabet…. isn’t it? LET THEM!

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(My daughter C….learning ALL of the letters of the alphabet 😉 )