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The Unschooling of Art – by Robert Genn

The Unschooling of Art - by Robert Genn

"Unschooling" is an educational philosophy and practice that allows children to learn through natural life experiences. Play, games, fantasy, hobbies and social interaction are supposed to take the place of traditional schools. The theory is that current curricula and grading systems are counterproductive to the goal of a broad education.

The term "unschooling" was coined in the 1970s by educator John Holt. It's not to be confused with "homeschooling" where kids are taught standard curricula by parents. Critics of unschooling have concerns that unschooled children will lack social skills, structure, and motivation--especially in the job market. Proponents of unschooling maintain the exact opposite--a self-directed education in a natural environment makes a child more equipped to handle the real world.

Many of us run our creative lives like unschooled kids. We work for joy, go here and there, treat our work as a hobby, indulge in wishful thinking, and have lots of social interaction. The question is--if unschooling is so effective and superior, how come there aren't more brilliant artists around? More to the point, how come there's so much substandard art out there? Further, what type of education makes for superior art?

Fact is, great art comes from both the schooled and the unschooled. It may have more to do with the old business of "character." In our game, character is the confluence of four virtues: high motivation, high curiosity, high work habits and high ego force. Funnily, among the folks I compete with, those four virtues are most often found among the unschooled.

Another interesting aspect of unschooling has to do with credentialism. Unschooled folks enter the jobosphere uncredentialled. They may have no degree, affiliation or parchment to back up their capabilities. Recent studies in the field of medicine, of all places, have revealed a few surprises. In some cases, the least credentialed doctors had the best human skills, on-the-job learning capabilities, and most success with treating patient maladies. In my case anyway, I'm not quite ready to allow a non-credentialed proctologist to practice proctology on my precious proctor.

Best regards,


PS: "What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent--is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgment, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them." (John Holt)
Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of Robert's artistic insight, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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