Creativity (part 1)


Since the beginning of term Max’s artistic capabilities have undergone a remarkable transformation. The quasi-impressionistic scribbling of a toddler has magically given way to recognizable shapes and even semi realistic representations. The leap, however, has its downside. No longer satisfied with my (Western) impulse to leave him alone with paper and crayons he now demands constant illustration and guidance, becoming frustrated when his drawing of a bird, a robot, a rocket does not go according to plan. Whereas I am told that in Shanghai’s international schools kids in art class can do no wrong, in the local system frank judgment and overt comparison are commonplace. The other day Max came home upset because his teacher told him candidly that his house made of blocks was not as good as his friends.

I am torn. Shouldn’t all block houses be praised equally? Or is this just a lie we tell our kids? Though determined to instill the values of originality, confidence and risk taking self expression, I cannot help but share his pride in the careful mimicry of his creations.

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