I view art as bridging the communication gap between everybody.
I grew up in a tiny German town and my family was the only American family in the nearby vicinity. Thus, my siblings and I were very close because none of the neighborhood kids in town could talk to us.
Until one day when I was rollerblading up and down my street and so was a girl who lived across from me. Eventually we began communicating, I knew enough German and she knew enough English. So we became friends. Which was lucky, because her family had a pool. More seriously, I got to immerse myself in the German culture by hanging out with her and her family.
However, I didn’t know enough German and she didn’t know enough English. One day she yelled at me that I really needed to learn her language since I was in her country (she was kind of right).
When words weren’t enough we reached to the staple of any 9 year old’s girl possessions, sidewalk chalk. I remember drawing things like “Wanna go on a bike ride to the forest and go swimming in the lake?” Or explaining what a “state” was in the United States of America.
I think we drew more with chalk than any other typical kid activity. Because we didn’t really have to talk, we could just draw together.
In our schools I feel that there are things kids want to say but don’t know how. Art gives them the outlet that other facets of school just can’t.
My current 6th graders are driven crazy by having to do art. What I need to work on is creating the kind of environment where kids feel free to take creative risks. Even if that risk is just picking up that pencil and drawing a line. I think children (okay and most adults) are so fearful of being critiqued for their artistic ability and it paralyzes them from even attempting anything artistic. But if I can show that I’m not going to grade anything and that I value the work everyone does I think that will be a step toward eradicating, “But I can’t draw!”