Teaching Middle School sometimes feels like trying to catch a roomful of bouncing superballs.
Middle School students are constantly questioning adult control but lacking self-control. How can we channel the energy yet provide the safety net for the freefall, encourage originality in face of peer pressure, affirm the strong emotions and feelings yet maintain dignity, tap the fantasy life without violating privacy, promote activity rather than passivity, and nourish self-esteem?
The answer to all these questions is, of course, art.
- Art provides an outlet for the energy because it is kinetic and self-generated.
- Art provides a structure within which to experiment.
- Every decision one makes in the course of creating a work of art is a personal one. Art is self-expression by the very fact that it is entirely individual.
- Art is active, engaging, and self-reinforcing.
- Art involves science, math, history, literature, and life experience. It teaches us about ourselves, our culture, and other cultures. It fosters creativity, hard work, self respect, and respect for others. It is rewarding and fun.
Why do we grade Middle School art? This is a change from Lower School. We expect students to listen, learn, and be engaged. This is the basis for evaluation; we do not expect perfection or great works of art. We are not trying to create artists from our students; we are trying to give them some exposure, some culture, and are hoping to keep that creativity bubbling.