I signed Laszlo up for an after-school art class one day a week. To protect the identities of those involved, let’s say it’s called “Trucks and Cars.” I thought this sounded perfect because it’s the sort of toddler-boy stuff that Laszlo is into. And then I realized that an art class about a subject that’s so boy-centered is really limiting the enrollment, which seemed strange.
That should have been the first clue that something about this class was amiss.
As soon as the first class started, the teacher said that the parents were free to leave now. Another mom and I explained to the him that the registrar had said this was a parent-and-me class. Which is a key factor to me, since I have a helicopter kid: Laszlo lets me drop him off at preschool, but that’s pretty much the only place he’s cool with being without a parent by his side.
Other than the fact that I happen to have a clingy kid, I wasn’t about to leave my son with a male teacher who created an art class that seems specifically directed to boys.
The teacher started class by laying out a bunch of markers and saying that each child should take 5 markers at a time. This sounded to me like a pretty sophisticated concept for 3 and 4 year olds. The fact that each boy went up to the table and grabbed as many markers as he wanted proved that my suspicions were correct.
I started to wonder if this guy had had any experience with preschool aged children.
I guess I was dreaming big when I signed up for this class, but I figured that the teacher would come to class with stencils of cars and trucks to make into a cardboard sculpture. Or that the kids would stamp some images of vehicles and then we’d help them make a mobile out of the pictures or something.
But all the teacher did was hand each kid a piece of paper and then he told the boys to imagine the cars and trucks that are outside this room and draw them on the paper with the markers they were unable to count out. I could have done this at home. For free.
Except for one artistically advanced 5 year old, all the other boys scribbled on the paper for a few minutes before becoming bored. The boys started wandering around. Laszlo pushed some chairs into a train formation. These kids were starting to go off the rails with boredom. Another kid started running around the studio with his shoes off. Somebody was about to start shouting “Kill the pig!” and I was just hoping that Laszlo wasn’t Piggy.
Then one of the boys asked the teacher about a “boo boo” he saw on the teacher.
“A boo boo?” the teacher asked, confused, looking to us moms for clarification.
He was unfamiliar with the term “boo boo”?!
We explained that it means a cut or a wound…. Or, as one mom who liked to use the sort of baby talk I’m not comfortable with tried to explain: An “ouchie.” We were in an art class with a teacher who seemed to have never worked with small children, maybe had never taken an art class, definitely wasn’t a certified teacher, and most bizarre of all, didn’t know what a “boo boo” was.
Then the teacher took the kids’ scribbled marker pictures and cut and stapled them into a box form.
We were dismissed 15 minutes early, paper scribble-boxes in hand.
The next week in class, the teacher handed us rejected cups and bowls from the pottery studio in the building. This time, the range of possibilities really opened up, when the boys were given the choice between decorating the pottery with the same markers from last week… or paint. There wasn’t even the precept of this being a “Trucks and Cars” project.
He excitedly told us, “This is an experiment! I’ve never tried this before!”
After the kids painted the discarded cups, the teacher “glazed” the pots after the paint dried with watered down craft glue. Once again, class ended 15 minutes early.
We took home a discarded pottery bowl with paint and half-dried, tacky glue on it. It’s a project that not only has nothing to do with “Trucks and Cars”, but also has nothing to do with art.
A few days later, Laszlo found his pottery bowl on a shelf in his room. He picked it up, complained that it was still sticky and said “Why is it sticky? Why there glue on it?”
I don’t know, Laszlo. I don’t know.
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