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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Don't laugh

My three-year-old granddaughter loves to draw on a big newsprint pad I gave her. When I presented her with her first crayons shortly after her first birthday, they went right into her mouth. No surprise there. I drew some cartoon characters for her and she made a few marks on the paper and wandered off. Now she loves to color and draw. My Little Artist knows that the marks she makes can depict something--Mommy, Daddy or the moon.

Many students I've worked with during more than thirty years of teaching have told me that they loved to draw as children, but gave it up because a teacher or parent or another child had made fun of their drawing and told them it didn't look like anything. That's so sad. Fortunately, I've learned that these people can be taught if they overcome the negative perception that they can't do it. But it would have been so much better if they hadn't been burdened with that idea in the first place.

That's why I say, "Don't laugh." Don't laugh at a small child's first efforts and don't make fun of your middle-aged or elderly relative's or friend's attempts at drawing or painting. Everyone is entitled to know the pleasure of making art without the fear of ridicule. It isn't about being an artist. It's about experiencing the joy of creating something that never existed before, a uniquely human privilege. We should celebrate everyone's attempts to develop their creative skills.

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