"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
- Pablo Picasso
All children are naturally talented and creative, the problem is that too often their wings get cut by teachers, family and society striving to make them fit into artificial categories of good art vs.bad art, intelligence vs.ignorance, talent vs. non-talent, regardless of the harm that this does to their self-confidence and creative potential.
Especially for children between 5 to 10, creativity should be about experiencing different mediums, playing, having fun, making a mess and making mistakes.
Some kids will show skills in drawing, others in colouring, others in crafts, and others in understanding theoretical concepts – all are equally valuable, thus we must support each child’s unique interests, as well as nurture their natural talents and individuality.
Children’s development is also very different: some kids will be seemingly quicker learner than others, but learning is not so much in a straight line, and high scores do not necessarily define intelligence, intelligence is a lifelong pursuit and often requires time and practice, as well as life chances and opportunities. And academic success is nothing without creativity and out of the box thinking; most of those we today call “geniuses” in fact were often outcasts which failed at traditional education and standardized tests.
So why should kids learn art? Not so that they can strive to be the next creative genius, or fulfill the wishes and expectations of teachers and parents, children should learn art because it will teach them to see the world from multiple perspectives, be creative thinkers and problem solvers, because it can show them how to actualize ideas and how to navigate a future which is often precarious and constantly changing; and last but not least, because it is fun!
And while it is true that not all children will grow up to be the next Frida Kahlo, an art education will prove to be an asset to any career path: whether this will be in finding the cure for cancer, or a job that helps tackling the many social injustices of the world.