“Just Look At Lucy’s Drawing Everyone!”

Teachers have a way of talking, especially at primary.

I now cringe at the sorts of things I used to say to my class but at the time that’s what I did and no one stopped me.

Take for example an art lesson. I loved art. The children loved art. Although I thought I was pretty good at teaching art, I know now that I wasn’t. It wasn’t so much the practical side of things – I was okay at that. It was what I said.

As I circulated around the room there would always be a stunning piece of art created by someone. I’d stand in awe at how a 9 year old could produce something so spectacular and then I’d take it from the child and say “Just look at Lucy’s drawing everyone!”

I thought Lucy would be as proud as punch and this would inspire her classmates. I’d been told to make a meal of WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like). I thought I was doing the right thing.

I wasn’t. I had good intentions but this was definitely not what to do.

Over time I realised that public praise embarrassed the artist and then built conformity throughout the class who all then ‘copied’ the same style.

For the rest of the class, Lucy’s drawing of an eagle was a signal to erase their own efforts and do what she was doing so they could get some positive feedback too.

By blurting “Just look at Lucy’s drawing everyone!”, this squashed individual creativity and more or less said, “What Lucy is doing is better than your effort so you should do the same as her.”

In art, the goal is creativity and for children to do what they do on their own terms. You can help them improve (see Austin’s Butterfly) but I’m not so sure about parading individual efforts above others.

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