“Look at how bad my drawing is!” This phrase spread a wave of negativity throughout my fourth-grade class on Monday. After hearing this I was compelled to lead the class in an impromptu conversation on constructive criticism. We talked about what it means to be critical of our own work, and the work of others, in a constructive way. I reminded my students that our time together is a time for us to be learning, and that mistakes made create opportunities for us to grow as artists.
I’ve been thinking about this conversation on criticism, and I was reminded of Lowenfeld’s stages of artistic development. My students are beginning to become self aware to the point of being extremely self critical. It’s at this stage that many kids stop making art. What better time to introduce concepts on constructive criticism in the classroom? All too often we’re quick to dismiss these negative comments and put a “good job” bandage on the situation. Next time you encounter a frustrated art maker, consider helping them through the problem in a constructive way: focus on the positive, find the source of frustration, and iterate.