This post is sponsored by Graphic Stock. I agreed to publish photos from their collection and tell you to go to their site. The company specializes in creative images. So naturally I was drawn to the images of school art projects.
They are beautiful images, actually. I remember all the art projects I came home with as a kid. They were generally very well done because the teacher knew how to give us a project that would work out. My mom has a framed picture my brother painted in the style of stained glass, with thick, black out lines. I have a picture framed in my house from when my son was in school and painted Starry Night.
I have even made fun of how un-creative it is to have 30 kids paint Starry Night, but every school does it. (I didn’t know that. I had thought our school was special.) But I still like looking at those art projects.
The one below is in the style of Eric Carle. Open one of his books—you must have The Hungry Caterpillar at home—and you’ll see that he paints each piece of paper before he uses it. Just like these kids did here.
Kids don’t make this sort of art when they are doing self-directed learning at home. For one thing, most art we envision by ourselves does not turn out so well, which is why the process of learning to be an artist is mostly making mistakes.
Mostly, the process of making art is also solitary. While art in school is about doing something together—everyone trying the same technique, or the same reproduction—most art is about looking inside your heart and sharing what you find there.
Which is why I am so emphatic about self-directed learning. To me education is teaching kids to perform self-interrogation and self-scrutiny, not to reproduce a specific technique, whether in art or math or writing.
I find myself struggling with the question of whether I am sufficiently supportive of my community if my kids do not participate in community schooling. But then I read an article about Anne Frank’s Diary.
Most American kids read her diary in their 8th, 9th, or 10th grade years. In the US, this is the book that introduces kids to the Holocaust. But Holocaust scholar Dawn Skorczewski explains that kids in Amsterdam don’t feel so connected to the diary. Many people in Amsterdam never even visit the home where Anne hid during the war; they see Anne Frank’s house as an American tourist attraction.
That really surprised me, but then Skorczewski explained that, “Anne’s self-interrogation represents a version of self-scrutiny that many Americans value. It’s probably part of the reason Americans hold the diary in higher regard than the Dutch, who are more interested in reading about people who try to help one another or who work toward a common good. Americans like stories of self-development.”
In an essay in The Objective Standard, Craig Biddle does a great job of showing the great American conflict between collectivism and individualism. The conflict happens throughout our culture—not only with classroom art projects and homeschooling. But I like hearing that my choice of homeschooling falls solidly in the realm of the American love for personal development.
Even if I am not upholding collectivist values by educating my kids in a classroom, I am upholding American values by taking my children out of school.