Thinking about Painting

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Posted 16 Aug 2014 in materials, role of teacher


“I want them to paint as an individual choice.”

“I want them to explore without having support or supervision.”

“I want to be comfortable letting kids go.”

“I want to increase their independence in this area.”

“I want them to know the systems so they can create freely.”

Teachers’ comments at Beyond Crayons and Markers: The Language of Paint and Color as Tools for Expression and Thinking.

I appreciate these comments–the desire to support autonomy and independence at the easel (or table), and to increase accessibility to paint and painting in the classroom. But I have to wonder if the desire for children’s independence stems from a hesitation to value painting, and art, as a worthy pursuit, or if instead the independence affords the teacher more time to focus on “important” activities.

I believe that what children (and adults) can learn through painting is not trivial, and deserves our attention. Color, composition, and movement, communication, expression and imagination are all part of painting. And so is process and planning and organization. There a cognitive aspect to painting that is too often not recognized or acknowledged. Painting is “fun,” but it also holds incredible potential as a tool for thinking and learning.

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