I teach art to a group of kids here in Seattle. My students range from about a year and a half to four years old. They are smart, creative, and absolutely willing to destroy anything I put in front of them. I watch them in disbelief as they tear apart projects that took hours of thought and preparation, and then I watch them in awe as they turn them into things I never could have imagined. And then they do it again. For them the project is never over; the creating never stops.
Last week I cut sea animals out of different colored pieces of felt, and with Velcro, attached them to another large blue piece of felt, creating an underwater world. In my mind, the kids would remove and reposition the felt animals where they saw fit, creating their own underwater world. We would talk about underwater animals and admire the starfish and turtles and put them in groups.
This didn’t happen. Within a minute of showing the kids the underwater scene, all of the cut out animals were on the floor or stuck to the kid’s clothes. The Velcro and what it would stick to was the new project. Then, the animals got put back on the large piece of felt and the kids began to swim with them, screaming, as turtles and fish nipped at their feet. One girl asked me for a Band-Aid because she had just been bitten by a shark. A minute later, the underwater world became a giant tortilla and the kids rolled themselves up into burritos.
They are not attached to the ideas they have or to the things they make. They create and destroy with the absolute confidence that anything they have done they can do again. And they’re right. I’m sorry, did I say I was the teacher?