By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
Twenty-four art students sat waiting for the teacher to begin the first day of instruction in drawing class. The teacher, in a northern New York high school, introduced himself and briefly told the students what they could expect during the semester. With the expectations clearly communicated, he then did the unexpected.
The art educator passed out a blank sheet of drawing paper to all the students. Pencils ready, they waited to receive their first assignment. They were in for a surprise. "Stand up, please," this teacher instructed. The students complied. "Now, put your paper on the floor in front of you," he continued. More than one quizzical look came from students as they slowly followed his directions.
When all students were standing with a blank paper on the floor in front of them, the teacher continued with his instructions. "Now step on it," he said. More puzzled looks followed. "I mean it," he continued. "Step on it. I want you to walk on your paper. In fact, I want you to stomp on it. Jump on it if you want to."
Some students eagerly complied. Others were hesitant. Eventually, all students stepped on their papers, leaving shoe marks of various sizes and shapes on their previously clean sheets.
"Now turn the paper over," this teacher suggested, "and do the same on the other side. Leave some marks." The students did as instructed, not fully understanding what was going on. If nothing else, this teacher now had everyone's attention.
"Sit back down now," the teacher suggested when students had successfully scuffed up both sides of their papers. "Now draw on it. And whatever you do, don't throw it away. I want you to make something out of it."
Many students were uncertain about the directions and hesitated to add pencil to the papers with shoe marks on them. The teacher explained, "You are going to make some mistakes this semester. You might even think you have ruined some things. Mistakes can be used to make beautiful creations. Do not start over. Work with your mistakes. Make something beautiful out of your messes."
"Some of your best art can come from your mistakes. See those mistakes as opportunities to create something different. If somebody walks on your paper, use that to create art. If you slip and make something the wrong color, turn it into the right color by turning it into an original creation."
"Now, let's get to drawing." With that, this teacher clapped his hands twice and said, "Come on, let's see what you can do. Step on it."
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the coauthors of Teaching the Attraction Principle to Children: Practical Strategies for Parents and Teachers to Help Children Manifest a Better World. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for them or learn more about the seminars they offer teachers and parents, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com