WE ARE CREATED TO BE CREATIVE – A Blog especially for teachers and parents
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Then God said, “Let us make man in our image.” He looked at what He created and said “It is Good.”
Many years ago, I took a group of adults with developmental disabilities to a Van Gogh exhibit. Many of the students worked in Sophie’s art studio and gallery in El Cajon and were familiar with some aspects of fine art. We all donned the headsets and proceeded reverently through the exhibit. As we approached a particular painting, one of the ladies stopped me and asked me why Van Gogh cut off his ear. I remember discussing how sad he must have been, and that art was his way of expressing his feelings, but somehow that was not enough. I don’t really remember much more of the conversation and the student with whom I had it, but I do remember the comments of another member of our group who had come along as a sponsor of the trip. He was a veterinarian who had little experience with this special population. He took me aside and said, “How did you do that?” Shaking my head, I asked what did I do? He told me that I had explained in very simple terms what even he had a difficult time understanding.
As teachers and parents, we will often be called on to give meaning to what may seem like chaos around us. We also need to be diligent to listen and understand what our students’ art is telling us. In order to do either of these, we must be grounded in the One who created us and how we use our gifts to infuse His spirit into every one of our lessons, planned or unplanned.
Every person/student has a God given desire to create or be creative and natural curiosity that drives that creativity. As educators, as parents, we need to recognize and guide students in using those gifts and curiosity as a way of fulfilling our ultimate purpose here on earth, to glorify God.
We also must recognize that individuals will express that creativity differently. I would consider myself a very creative person, but I am not an artist.
I was to draw the playground. I remember drawing a square box with handles for the playhouse and a rectangle with lines for the monkey bars; then I drew odd circles that were connected as an illustration for the steps. I was kind of proud of my kindergarten artwork when I placed it on the teacher’s desk. I can still see that picture in my mind… with a big, fat, red D at the top. I don’t remember any other instruction than to draw the playground and no follow up as to why my creation was unacceptable. What I do remember is that feeling that defined much of my youth and early educational accomplishments. I might as well have that big red D stamped on my forehead, announcing to everyone my lack of ability, artistic or otherwise. I love that teacher, and I still exchange Christmas Cards with her, but to this day… 52 year later, I still don’t get it. I share these examples as reminders to be careful with the hearts that are entrusted to us.
As teachers (and parents), it is our responsibility to encourage, guide and direct the exploration of each student’s creativity. It is good to recognize those talents in art just as you would recognize a student’s extraordinary skill in math or language arts. We have the unique opportunity to help shape a child’s view of himself and the world through our interactions while teaching art (or any other subject).
Ron D. Van Der Pol, in his master’s thesis, states. “Art is a process of making and interpreting visual reminders of God‘s creation. A Christian philosophy of art education begins with the fact that God created us in His own image as aesthetic beings, able to respond to and appreciate the physical beauty of the world. He also gave each of us the desire to create in our own right.”
I love this statement. I realized a few years ago, as I was using my creativity in decorating my house and designing/creating my backyard oasis; that I am worshiping as I am using my creativity. Too Often, I will sit in my house or yard and look at the “one more thing that I could do.” But I recently came to realize that it is good to sit back after a project is done and say, as God, who created us in his image, said “and it was good.” Just enjoy the beauty of a job well done. Galatians 6:4 says: Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
I wonder if Van Gogh would have cut off his ear or carried out his suicide if he would have heeded this verse. The world and its critics are harsh. We need to remove the fear and introduce the freedom of creativity. God is not a God of fear but a God of order, creativity and confidence.