Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Media Bias

My son Aidan models in beeswax. A lot. He can spend hours working on arrangements. For instance, he saw an article in one of his magazines about some elephants that had been taught to paint. He immediately made a little elephant out of beeswax, with a paintbrush in his trunk, and an easel for him to work with. I have seen circuses, seascapes, and and endless procession of primates swinging from trees, with lifelike gesture and proportion, arranged all through the house.

The media has a lot to recommend it -- the beeswax becomes soft and pliant when you warm it up in your hands, but eventually cools and hardens into something firm enough to play with. While it's a little more difficult to work than clay, it can do things clay could never do -- you can stretch it out until it's paper-thin and translucent, and it will still hold together. Aidan is an enthusiastic supporter of the media and will even tell other kids where to buy it.

What makes Aidan's love for beeswax even more interesting is that he can't draw to save his life. If he tries to draw anything representational (which isn't often), it looks like something a two-year would have done. I worry sometimes that he'll have a hard time catching up in school (drawing is very important in the Waldorf curriculum), but then again it's clear to me he has a good eye and a creative temperament.

We take it for granted that kids know how to draw . . . now I'm starting to recognize that that's just a bias in our culture. They draw because we teach them to draw. But if you give them other media, they can master those as well. I wonder what kids could do if you gave them enough musical media . . . or dance . . . or toothpicks, for that matter.


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