Today I volunteered at the AAFSCNY, working with kids in the after school program. Recently some of the kids have become interested in learning to crochet (i.e. they want me to make them something). I’m always surprised when the boys want to learn, since knitting/crocheting/crafty things are usually perceived as girly. But it’s awesome, and they’re usually better than the girls.
I noticed that, while I was teaching one of the boys, he had a really tight grasp on the needle, but he was trying to move it slowly and carefully. It occurred to me that, in a way, I was teaching him how to be gentle. Here are all these hyper, aggressive, energetic boys who can’t seem to control themselves, and here they are, sitting down attempting to discipline themselves. I found it very satisfying. I love teaching kids – especially boys – to make something, and then see them work hard at it.
This is why we need art in our schools. These kids aren’t learning how to make something peacefully. They aren’t learning to express themselves the way art allows them to. They aren’t learning patience and satisfaction. And I’m not just talking about painting and photography and music. Crocheting, weaving, woodshop, dance, all alternative forms of expression need to be put back in schools. Why do you think so many kids are diagnosed with ADHD so young these days? Why do you think boys seem harder to handle in the classroom? Give them art and self-expression. The world will be a better place!