Reader comment on Nina Wise's passage ...

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    On Apr 20, 2010 Craig Coss wrote:

    A lovely piece of writing, Nina. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

    I think you are so correct about "stopping" the natural flow as the main cause for a lack of creative expression. Teaching visual art to middle-school students, I often ask on the first day, "Who considers themselves to be an artist?" Ususally, in a good school, about a third of the kids raise their hands. So I ask the others, "When did you stop?"

    And what I've found is that most of the students who stopped did so in first or second grade: around ages seven and eight. And most of them stop because another student—almost always an older one—often an eight year old—criticized their work in a cruel or thoughless way. Sometimes it's a critical parent that critizes their child's expressions, but more often, it's an eight year old in their school. How many of us are still letting some eight year old's heartless remark inhibit us? Many of us today draw like seven or eight year olds only because that's when we stopped.

    So perhaps that voice that you refer to that tells us to stop wasn't really our voice in the first place, but a lingering echo from our childhood that's still bouncing around in there.

    Can we return to that old wound, bring it to consciousness again, and sense the absurdity of the power it still holds over us? 

    Must we actually return to an earlier age when the creative functions are flowing, and criticism isn't a part of our thinking? I could not give myself the freedom to be uninhibited in my expressions until I volunteered in a kindergarten class while in my early twenties. Watching those kids sing, dance, draw, perform, and express without any thoughts of self-judgement gave me permission somewhere to do the same: first in their class, then in other classrooms in schools, and finally around adults. I was healed by a class of five year olds.

    I'm not a parent, but I wonder if parents have children who allow them to be creative again as adults. Has anyone had that experience?


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