Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clipping The Wings Of Creative Expression

"Look Mommy!" With those words, my (then) three year old sister shoved her latest play-group-art-creation into my mother's arms. It was Erev Shabbos, Parshas Lech Lecha, so naturally, my sister has made the standard plastic-bowl tent, stapled to a paper plate, complete with four doors to commemorate Avraham Avinu's tent. My mother was proud of her daughter, and her obvious Parsha knowledge, and decided to test her. "So tell me sweetheart, why does the tent have four doors?" My sister seemed to find the answer obvious. "Cuz that's how my Morah made it!"

I understand the Morah's thought process, I really do. I was once a day-camp counselor. She is thinking that there are 20 kids, all of whom need their projects to be completed before the mommy's get there, plus there are lunches to eat and diapers to change and.....it's simply so much easier to do the project yourself, scribble the kid's name on the back, and tell them they did such a beautiful job on the arts and crafts.

So you think that when your kid grows up, and they are old enough not to be fooled like that, they will come home with their own artistic creations, rather than their Morahs, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. The other day I was at a neighbor's house, when the girls came home from day camp. They have a number of girls of varying ages, and they were all toting a box, which they proudly told us contained their major arts and crafts of the summer. The girls opened their respective boxes, and I blinked, sure I was seeing double. One by one, the girls removed a beautiful lamp, surely an expensive project. But at closer inspection, I couldn't believe my eyes. Each lamp looked identical to the other. It seemed ridiculous to me.

This past shabbos, when I was in their house again, I chuckled to myself, as I noticed identical lamps shining from each bedroom, some bedrooms twice. But then I found it sad. Isn't this just another way that we don't let children express themselves, that we don't let kids be a little different? Why is our society so insistent on everything being MOTS (More Of The Same)?

13 comments:

inkstainedhands said...

It's because our society does not put enough importance on creativity and expression, which really is a pity, as you said.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Yeah, it's an unfortunate society to be residing within..

Freeda said...

so true- when i made my camp, made sure that the children were doing the projects, not me cuz after all, I don't need to show off my abilities to the mothers...

Freeda said...

unfortunate society- I wouldn't put it that way, it's just an unfortunate part of a great society :)

itsagift said...

So true.
But I think the kiddy arts n crafts that are more messy and less professional looking are much 'nicer' because it shows that the kid is the one who really put in the work!

G6 said...

SD -
You bring up a very interesting topic and I will agree with everything you've said and introduce another problematic layer.
My daughter was in a camp when she was about 3 whose head counselor was amazingly creative and her projects were awesome... literally.... they were things you would keep and use and cherish.
Sadly, my daughter had the WORST summer. This level of perfection gave rise to an enormous amount of anxiety for my daughter in any of the things she did herself. Some of that overdone perfectionism has stayed to this day and it yields much stress.
I hate to see kids rip up or toss their projects b/c they're "not good enough".
It makes me so sad......

Something Different said...

ISH- Yeah, and people who are creative are considered weird... :-(

WYNI- Disagree. See Freeda's comment!

Freeda- Yeah, I struggled with it as a counselor, but I always tried to remind myself of that. And I agree with you completely on the second one! :-D

IAG- Exactly. The point is not to show off how well the morah can color... "mommy, my morah colors best from the whole bunk!" lol

G6- Thats horrible!! Did you realize as it was goin on or only in retrospect?

G6 said...

I realized that she was unhappy and didn't want to "do" the projects, but it took most of the summer until I figured out why....
I then kindly told the perfect head counselor, to let her be "imperfect"... but by then the damage (and the fun)was done...

halfshared said...

I was just discussing this with someone the other day. When I was younger, I used to make a day camp in the summers with a friend. Our arts and crafts were cute but far from extravagant or perfect. Our trips consisted of taking them to a park, to a pet shop and toys r us. And they were happy because the main thing was that they were loved.
I've been hearing what day camps do today as entertainment and it scares me. What's next? How will they entertain my children? What comes after helicopter rides for camp kids? What will the prizes be in the future?

Something Different said...

Damage meaning lasting? Like, does she dislike arts and crafts now? And Seriously, I can't get over that. It's horrible. Good thing I am not a teacher I might have done that.... :-O

Lvnsm27 said...

I can relate, I also feel that people should let kids be more creative b/c it helps with their cognitive thinking skills

Staying Afloat said...

I am very very with you here. Being creative is an essential aspect of each person, however they express it. And when you want to assert yourself to do something that's your idea and someone squashes you-

Some kids get stressed by projects in general- they want it to be perfect and are frustrated when they can't get it. But it's good for them to learn what they can do and to accept imperfection. Morah doing it teaches the opposite.

Itsagift, I agree. In my succah, we have a wall with four different lulav/esrog pictures. All the kids went to the same playgroup morah and made the same project, but they're all different. If they weren't, I'd just put up one.

Something Different said...

Lvnsm- yes, let's start a revolution!

SA- Thats a good point you make about accepting imperfection. I never thought of it that way....
And our sukkah is decorated with years of arts and crafts, either those we did in school or together with my mother. It's so much nicer than the ones you buy...