The present state of teaching of art in the primary school reveals that the true function of art in the education of the child has not been realised properly. The reason no doubt is a lack of true knowledge about the child and his mind. As a consequence of this the course of study and the method of teaching have been devised from a point of view that is wholly wrong. What is required of the child according to this syllabus is to develop by stages his powers of observation and execution after the manner of the adult artist. The course of study spreading over four years of primary stage, therefore prescribes such lessons as simple object drawing, nature drawing, drawing of simple geometrical solids, pattern of geometrical forms, etc. There no doubt exists some provision for “free expression drawing” with the object of conceding to the child some freedom to express himself, but that too is subjected to the approval and correction by the teacher thus defeating the very purpose of such work.
In fact, during the entire period of the child’s learning, it will be seen that it is the idea, outlook and the standard of the adult-which the child does not understand, that is imposed on him with the result that he loses his own values as well as his innate gift for creation and expression.
Eminent psychologists who have made a deep study and extensive research work in the field of child psychology have discovered certain laws that regulate and guide the life of the child in his pre-adolescent period. The most fruitful of these discoveries is that there are different stages of development common to all children and that their outlook and expression are governed to a large extent by the particular stage within which they fall. These stages are natural and fixed and must be lived through without any attempt to disturb their natural order.
Further, they have found that the faculties of creation and imagination are inborn in every child. There is, therefore, a constant urge in him to express himself through his creative work. They also contend that he enjoys doing so if he is left unhampered by the imposition of an adult outlook and technique. They have also found that this natural and spontaneous creative activity of the child comes to an end at the approach of adolescence.
In the light of the above findings of the psychologists, it is to be seen bow this natural spurt of creative faculty of the child can have a lasting effect in his life. As artists are born and not made, we can define the purpose of art in the education of the child as:
1. Not to produce artists but to foster and develop creative self expression inherent in every child.
The normal child wants to create. If he has no scope to create he will destroy, which is but the negative of creating, like love and hatred. The spontaneous creations of the child are always connected with his inner needs and desires which he must satisfy. The creative power once awakened will change his whole outlook on life. He may not be a creative artist but he will certainly be a creative personality.
2. To enlarge the powers of visualisation and imagination and to deepen the emotion.
The creations of the young child are not the results of his mere observation which is a scientific attitude but of his imagination and visualisation the attitude of which is aesthetic. To the child the image is the reality: the object is the symbol. In the process of his creation he invests the symbol with the reality of the image. In creative work the emotion is enriched since it is the impulse of creation.
3. To train the hand and the eye. (It is necessary particularly for craft work.)
We are apt to forget that the child has got a pair of hands with sensitive fingers. He always wants to use them to shape, form and create. If he does not get opportunity to use them his creative power will stagnate.
4. To release creative impulse and suppressed emotions so very essential in the life of a child from the point of view of his mental health.
According to the psycho-analysts, suppressed emotions are the causes of various maladies from which many children suffer. Life has an inner dynamism of its own, it tends to grow, to be expressed, to be lived. If this tendency is thwarted, the energy directed towards life changes into energies directed towards destruction. “Destructiveness is the outcome of unlived life.”
5. Lastly, the system of the education of the child should aim at producing an integrated personality and this can be achieved only by giving the child two modes of experience—intellectual as well as aesthetic.
Content of Art Education of the Child: Primary Standards I, II, III & IV. Subjects—Drawing and Painting, Clay modelling, Paper cutting. Notes for the teacher on general child psychology, method of teaching, class arrangement and materials for use.
Psychology of the Child—Stage of child symbolism: The child’s perceptual capacity at this stage is immature. As a result of this he invents and makes use of various symbols and set schemata of objects for expressing his ideas in drawings. These symbols and schemata vary according to age. He does not copy directly from nature but draws entirely from impression and imagination. His pictorial language, therefore, is symbolic and not representational.
Every normal child is endowed with an innate faculty of creation and imagination. There is also an impelling urge in him to express himself freely through his creative work. But the child has his own outlook and standard which are fundamentally different from those of the adult. Any imposition of adult idea or standard, therefore, would destroy his creative effort and pervert him.
The mind of the child develops through certain stages. These stages are natural and fixed. Any attempt to disturb this natural order would seriously impede his growth.
Method of Teaching: In view of the above facts of the psychology of the child, it will be found that the method of teaching art to the child should lie only in guiding him on his own way. The teacher, therefore, should encourage the child in his attempt to draw and paint and give him full scope to express his ideas and experiences, imaginations, and phantasies freely and unhampered by imposition of any kind of adult idea or standard.
The child in his picture making will make his own composition, find his own colours and invent his own technique. He should never be taught to draw, neither should he ever be asked to copy. The teacher also should desist from correcting or touching up his work.
Although children have enough ideas and experiences of their own which they would like to draw and paint, occasional suggestions from the teacher would be greatly welcomed by them as a stimulus to their imagination, particularly of the unimaginatives. Suggestion of a common subject for the whole class, at times, would produce—remarkable result. This may also be given through the narration of a story or recitation of a poem in which case they must possess strong illustrative features. The teacher should in this case expect individual interpretations of the subject matter by the children. Occasions such as festivals, school sports, performance of a circus party and the like, should be seized by the teacher and suggested to the class as stimulating subjects for drawing. Much however depends upon the teacher who by his ingenuity should discover ways and means to inspire the children and get the right kind of work from them.
There will be children of different abilities in the same class and their works are bound to be of different degrees, but the teacher should receive all kinds of works with equal commendations, for, these efforts of the children may lack in anything, but not in sincerity. It will be a great mistake to expect from the same class a uniform result in creative work.
In teaching art to young children the first thing that the teacher should do is to create a congenial atmosphere in which the children would feel happy and enjoy their work.
In teaching clay modelling and paper cutting the same method should be applied. In paper cutting work children of the first and second standards should be given paper tearing work.
Class Room. Environment has a strong influence on the mind of the children. The class room, therefore, should be arranged and decorated in such a way as to exert the right kind of influence on their mind and induce them to work. In a class room of young children it is not advisable to exhibit adult pictures as they might be tempted to copy them. Only works of children should be displayed and those should be changed periodically. The class room should be spacious and well lighted.
Materials. For Drawing and Painting: Coloured crayons of good quality have been found suitable for young children. Powder or poster colour may be used if found suitable. The brush to be used for such colours should be thick and round with “Springy” hairs (No. 10). Large sized tinted paper of light grey or brown shade will serve the purpose of both the media-the crayon as well as the liquid colours. Size of paper should not be less than 15”x11”. The number of colours should be restricted to no more than six for the use of younger children (Pr. I & 2) and these should be Red (scarlet), Yellow (chrome), Blue (ultramarine), Green, (Hooker’s), Purple and Black. Where resources do not permit, chalk, charcoal, or coloured powder and slate, cardboard or brown paper (packing) may be used.
Modelling. Special modelling clay and plasticine are excellent for the purpose. In the absence of these materials potters’ clay will be found good. Wooden boards size 16”x11” would be another requirement. In the absence of this the floor may be used for the purpose.
Paper Cutting: Tinted or coloured papers with bright colours, light brown or light grey papers for background and scissors are required for this work. Tinted or coloured papers should be of the following colours—Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple and Black.