Thursday, April 26, 2007

Death of Creativity?

Browsing the crap that major corporations pandering to impulse consumers feel the need to send me in the mail, I came across this in a Blood Bath & Beyond flyer:


What the hell? It's a pre-made lemonade stand for kids.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but isn't half of the fun of making a lemonade stand finding the old boxes, tables, etc. around the house and making your own stand?

Oh but why bother when this one comes with markers you can color your stand with!

Jesus Haploid Christ. How many trees died for this frivolity?

I guess I'm grappling with my own creativity issues.

I love this new school Chunky's going to but one thing I've noticed that really gets to me is the art projects they let the kids do.

They have to be EXACTLY THE SAME. If they draw a picture of the red flowers in the vase on the table, you must color the flowers red. You cannot color them yellow or purple.

I walked in one day as he was making a butterfly out of construction paper and sequins. He misplaced a sequin so that it was about two inches below where it should have been to match the corresponding sequin on the other wing. His teacher made him pull it off and re-glue it so it would be symmetrical with the other wing.

Ok, maybe it was an exercise in learning the meaning of "symmetry" but I don't think so.

I've brought up their strictness in the instruction of "art" to Dr. Mad Scientist and he doesn't seem to think there's a problem. (Hm, did I expect anything else from a scientist?)

Maybe I am over reacting.

But on the other hand maybe I'm not. In my opinion, if you're going to call it "art" then you need to give kids some guidelines and let them interpret those guidelines as they wish. To me the definition of art is self-expression--not making sure your picture looks just like the one the kid sitting next to you drew.

I just don't want Chunky to become an uber-perfectionist that's going to develop an ulcer if his artwork isn't as asthetically pleasing, or doesn't look like his friend Billy Boogerflicker's.

It's also hard to teach a five year old that he needs to respect his teachers, but that they aren't always 100% correct in what they're telling him.

I just hope I can teach him that it's OK to push the artistic envelope now and then.

What else would you expect from the girl that did sculpture out of oatmeal and dead goldfish in her high school art class and grew up to knit plastic bag raincoats in her spare time?

Alright if you've read this far, guess what else is up?

It's almost the end of the month and we all know what that means right?

Time to unveil the K.A.Y.E. prize yarn for April!

Not familiar with what the hell I'm talking about? Click right here for the contest rules!

Now I've tried to consciously get away from sock yarn because I know not all fiber fiends are sock knitters (but there's just something so gosh darn hypnotic about sock yarn!) so this month's prize is a yarn that you could use for socks, but you don't have to if you don't want to (Be creative! Break with conformity! Push the envelope!).

Scope it out:

100_3317's a hank o'Mountain Colors handpainted worsted weight yarn.


I believe the color is "Alpine."

Next step in buying prize yarn: Try to stay away from all the blues. I've been giving away too much blue yarn with this contest!

Stay tuned for May 1 when the old Random Number Generator picks a name out of the pool of people who have become eligible for the Kootchie Awareness Yarn Extravaganza this year.

And as always, don't despair if your name wasn't randomly generated--you've got all year to win each month. This includes the mini-stash Grand Prize of donated yarns generous knitters have sent me to be awarded in December.

Does Santa bring you anything for getting your cooter rooted? I think not!

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Blogger ZantiMissKnit said...

I find the art projects worrisome too. Encourage him to be more, um, artistic at home, I guess would be the answer for now.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

That lemonade stand was creepy. My kids made a lemondade stand last year. They had a blast. Didn't sell any lemonade, but they had fun trying :).

As a homeschooler, I can't really comment on the school thing, but just suffice it to say the homogenization is kind of the goal of our public school system. Good luck with that one.

Chunky's lucky he has a non-conformist Mom who knits plastic bags in her spare time ;).

8:10 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I think the teacher has OCD and the kids unfortunately have to suffer. You should send her an article which shows that people's faces aren't symmetrical and that shows what freakshows that we would look like if they were. (Have you ever read about that?!?! It's creepy!) That would blow her mind.
The lemonade stand is probably for parents who are too busy to help their kids with a real one. It probably gives the nanny a break from having to cut up cardboard boxes.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Cheesy Knit Wit said...


Public schools, including daycare or whatever it is called, are there to mold the minds of kidlets how they see fit. Individuality is pretty much a no-no in today's society.

I realize that most daycare centers are privately owned, but they take good notes from public schools, etc.

I did not home school my kid, but I wish my husband and I had. Maybe she would have turned out a better person. In saying that, she also never attended a daycare because of mine and my husband's opposition to what we believe(d) was/is someone else raising our kid. Just my opinion.

I would ask the question as to why the children are not allowed to use a bit of individuality. What would it hurt?

Take care,

8:29 AM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

You are right on about the art projects. My husband and I had our nioeces over for a weekend. I got out tons of paints, brushes, and canvases. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get them to let go and just paint something with out an "assignment" or instructions to guide them. It seemed very sad!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I could write an essay about that, but don't think I have the time and patience for it at the moment.

But I will say that I frequently have cause to point out to my kids (especially Owen, as he's older) that most ed majors are not the best and the brightest. At many schools, it's kind of a bozo major. Which isn't to say that I allow my kids to be disrespectful of authority. But I do explain to them that it's possible that they have more innate smarts that the teacher. And that sometimes they just have to play by the rules of the teacher or school, even if they don't make sense.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Yikes. That would worry me too.

The best teacher either of my kids ever had was youngest son's third grade teacher. At conferences, she told me she liked how he'd write stories and little essays, that he was really creative, and she was deliberately not pointing out grammar/punctuation stuff, because she didn't want to distract him from being creative. "He's got years to learn that," she said at the time, "but the creativity is the important thing now." I think I'm inclined to agree.

10:59 AM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Forcing a child to re-glue a sequin seems a little extreme to me. Man, what happens if he colors outside the lines - detention? I wonder who's interpretation of art this is, the teacher's or the school's?

At any rate, I don't think you need to be overly concerned - - you're creative enough that it should all balance out. ;)

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an authority issue. I hate people like that!! I would not let it worry me though unless Chunkie starts to act up. You take people like that with a grain of salt and go on your merry way. I think that Chunkie can get enough free-thinking from you. When you get right down to it everything in life is art, except where there is need for structure. For example you don't want your roof falling on your head, or your pants splitting open. These are places where you need to do the true and sure way but how you got there does not matter. Lecture finish! Love, Mom

11:51 AM  
Blogger Poops said...

I wouldn't lose sleep over preschool art.

Some kids get overwhelmed at being told "make whatever you want". I was one of them, and look at me now! I practically have to be restrained!

I'm sure at this point they're mostly just trying to teach the kids not to eat glue or stick sequins up their noses. Or vice versa.

12:15 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

Sigh. The lemonade stand reminds me of Halloween costumes--back in the day we put ours together with stuff around the house or sometimes my mom would sew us an outfit and I know working moms are super busy but these days it's more like "Oh your Costco purchased costume is so much cuter than the Target purchased costume I bought for Tiffany"

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Wow. It's like the art Nazi. "Conform children, conform!" HAHA. It is good for them to know that art is what they make it. I like your mom's opinion on it!

I saw that lemonade thing in the catalog. People are getting lazy. It's rubbing off on the kids. I will NEVER have a DVD player in my car! :D That stuff kills me.

1:11 PM  
Blogger T. Budnik said...

I'd ask the teacher what the hell is the point of making the flowers red or the butterfy symmetrical. I remember in 2nd grade doing these exercises where the teacher would slowly read to us directions on how to color the picture in front of us: "Color the monster's tail orange." As a side note, that was damn difficult because that year, I just pulled my crayons from the communal bucket at home and only chose the colors I liked. I had to borrow all the ugly colors.

Anywho, maybe they're trying to teach something beyond art?


1:28 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Yup, public ed is about socializing kids to conform, period. My daughter's had that same problem, and it's pervasive, even if you homeschool, they'll get it somewhere.

My sister gave my daughter one of those premade playtents and she had fun with it for about a week and then went right back to making up her own 'forts' with blankets, chairs and whatever else around the house, sometimes adding on to the playtent, which I thought was subversive and wonderful. LOL

It's hard to completely squash kids' creativity, so take heart, you made it to adulthood without losing it, after all. If you give him the space and encouragement to do his own thing at home, he won't lose it either.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I would talk to the teacher and ask why everyone needs to have things symmetrical and all the same color. D's teacher has brought up several times that he doesn't use enough color in his drawings, and I keep reiterating that even as a 2 year old, he had NO interest in it. Not all kids are the same, we can't expect them all to be our good little robots.

You'll have my name for K.A.Y.E next week...I've got an appt. for 5/4.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Don't EVEN get me started on public schools. We were fine til high school, now girl 1 is in a private school. And THAT keeps me from having impulsive expenditures of major proportions in all that is fiber. grrrr Hey, this is your rant not mine!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

maybe you'll even gather enough stuff for TWO huge winners. heh. i'll be in starting for the July 1st drawing! Will let you know...

3:53 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Sad to say, but the whole world seems to like it better if you just act like everyone else. The trick is to teach your children how to get their needs met (do what's is required, like how to deal with the people in the dmv or the insurance company) and stay true to themselves. I used to tell my children, from the time they were born, "There are no rules in Art!"
There was a kindergarten para-professional who told one child, "Pumpkins are orange. You can't draw a rainbow-colored pumpkin!"
She replied, "Does my pumpkin scare you?" That shut the teacher up.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

I am with you on the whole creativity thing. I love my girls are wacky sometimes with what they make.....I feel sorry for kids that are not given the chance to explore with crafts and stuff. They miss out in my opinion.

You allow him so many great opportunities I am sure at home so I wouldn't worry but maybe if you can tell him that although they like it X way it is okay to step out of the box.

That yarn is very nice. I would be the same...buying blues. It is hard to is just a fab color and then in yarn somehow seems even better.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

That creativity thing is scary. Makes me go want to listen to Harry Chapin's "Flowers are Red." I want my kid socialized, but not conformist. I myself am a victim of expecting conformity over creativity. Geez, I don't even have any kids.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Janelle said...

Oh yes, there's all kinds of wrong with forcing kids (especially at 5!?!) to strive for "perfection" in their work. Starting with the fact that perfection, in itself, is subjective. And that art, in itself, is an expression of one's creativity and letting go, rather than being stuffed into a box and being forced into reproduction of someone else's ideas. If a child glues a sequin lower on one side than the other, who's to say that he didn't do it on purpose? Because he wanted it that way? Because he liked it that way? Certainly not the teacher. It's not her art. It's his.

The lessons and esteem that kids receive at these early ages will stay with them as they develop, and what worse thing can you tell a child than that their work, much less their ART, isn't good enough, isn't straight enough, isn't up to someone else's standards? Our kids will have enough pressures on them in due time. Let them be kids. Sheesh.

I may be over-reacting, but with my own background of painful perfectionism and self-esteem issues, I think I would even consider pulling my child out of an environment like the one you described. To not only stifle a child's imagination with such structured "art" projects but to go the extra step to point out every little imperfection and force the child to physically correct them can do nothing but damage to that child's creativity and worse, his self-esteem.

I would speak to the teacher and ask her to describe the details of the project that you witnessed, just to give her the benefit of the doubt and the chance to explain herself. If it becomes clear that yes indeedy, she really did simply want all of the pictures to look the same with no self expression allowed, I would talk to the director of the school. I would be willing to bet that you won't be the first parent to do so.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Geesh, that is extreme! I think just keep encouraging him at home about creativity and it's OK to do it, but sometimes you just have follow the teacher...grrr...not that I totally agree with that either...

Gorgeous yarn! Hey, it's your contest, you choose what color you want to! ;)

9:59 PM  
Blogger janna said...

I'm so glad someone else mentioned Harry Chapin's "Flowers are Red" (words here: But I don't think it's just schools, public or otherwise, that try to force conformity - it's society in general, and it's getting worse, not better.

(why does your word verification hate me????)

12:03 AM  
Blogger Linnea said...


I agree with just about everything that everyone else has already said about the school issue (maybe because I as raised in the public school system and am therefore somewhat of a conformist myself - hah!) Seriously, though... In preschool I got in trouble for painting words on my paper instead of pictures. And I still remember that incident very, very clearly, well over 20 years later.

Hope you can sort this all out. Chunky certainly seems like a bright kid, and I imagine you'll be able to talk to him about how he feels about the art projects as well as the whole concept of creativity.

Ahem. Now I am going to go sew a purse from a pattern.

4:04 AM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

Oooh that's some pretty stuff! Don't worry about the blues. So long as it's that pretty no one will care!

That is strange about the art projects. I'm willing to bet it's more the teacher being anal than a school policy though. I'd ask about it. Kids that young need to just have fun with crafts and not get all stressed out about it being "perfect". Bah.

6:30 AM  
Blogger maryannlucy said...

"cooter rooted"!!! stop! I am crying!

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Zuma said...

You've got to listen to that song "flowers are red"

When I was in elementary school we were doing some kind of painting thing, and I accidentally tipped over the jar of water we were using to clean our brushes. It went all over my picture and totally messed it up. I dried it up as best as I could. And the teacher thought it was great! She entered it into the local art show, and I got to meet the Mayor!

Kids should be encouraged to be creative!!! If you want something that looks exactly like the flower on the table - use a freaking camera!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

Bah! I hate stifled creativity too. He needs some art time with his momma.

7:12 PM  

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