A Brief Complaint of Current Child Art Education in China, Mar 2018

How to cultivate the sensitiveness of children? Please answer this in your mind, and let me begin first.

As I mentioned before, or if I did not remember it correctly maybe I just added it to my personal statement, I helped my old painting teacher to fond an art education institution in Shaoxing. Primarily, it provides painting and calligraphy courses to children and adults.

Most Chinese parents still consider their money is worth spending if a short-term of training will allow their children to draw something accurately. I have to say this is stupid. I am not afraid of saying it out here because parents who have such benighted understanding of education of art, they basically cannot speak another language.

Our institution provides a brief lecture on the history of art. We, mostly me, giving lessons to kids of all ages to recognise influential painters and art movements in the past, to wilder their eyes and make them aware of the gap between Chinese and Western art education. These lessons are loved by children, and my boss made me quite popular amount kids but received a considerable amount of complaints from parents. They believe I am teaching something completely useless and should not occupy training time for painting. My teacher and I said OK fine, we are sacrificing, we(still me, sigh) teach that in our lunch break.

So I’d say kids in our institution are the first group to know some painters from the Dutch Golden Age, aware of Picasso also produce realism work when he was a boy and unlike the most people who named their favourite artist Van Gogh, they can actually call some paintings from Van Gogh, and know the difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism.

The job does not pay me much, but I did give up some well-paid full-time jobs to continue this effort. Because change a situation may cost a generation of people, so what reason do we have to delay it?

Now I need your answer, what is the best way to cultivate the colour sensitiveness for children?

I will introduce the common situation in art education institutions nowadays in China, the teacher would help kids, hand-in-handly put colour green to trees, blue to the sky and red to the sun. For god’s sake look it up, I am pretty sure the sun it more close to yellow when you want a realistic visual reproduce of a shine-on-your-head sun. That will not happen here.

I arranged a lesson to provide kids with colour pastels and knives (I guarantee you there will be no safety problem because I did this under my watch, one on two, for three groups), kids were told to scrape dust from pastels on a plastic box that foundationed with glue, to find the most comfortable colour combination for themselves. Every kid was told to try several times until they find the combination that they satisfied the most.

Here are the results.

According to my observation, kids who have oil paintings lessons afterwards did have a better understanding of colour tone. They finally stopped throwing grass green out of tubes directly onto canvases when they doing realism life-drawing training. They now know each colour has a suitable position to fit. And they are happy to look for it.

I did recall a parent who even used her daughter’s outcome of the experimental lesson as her phone’s background image. She was also the one who complained me afterwards said ‘that young lack-of-experienced-look teacher had taught useless things! Again!’

Now you can see why I said changing a social situation may cost a full generation of people.

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