And Why Not? – A memorable experience in art! by Tricia Hague Barrett


Never would I have ever thought that I would be teaching children art.  This was not even in my radar in the beginning.   Yet here I was after completing my Diploma, doing just that.  I had spent 5 years studying with the Learning Connexion and I was used to working sometimes up to 90 hours a week.  The interesting thing is that The Learning Connexion takes students from all around the world.
I was either painting, sketching, sculpting, taking photos, or designing posters and even cards and bookmarks using computer graphics.    
After I received my Diploma of Art and Creativity with Honors from The Learning Connexion, my aim was to open some kind of art studio –  basically to assist young children to get in touch with their artistic abilities.  
I enjoyed teaching 3-4 year olds attending a Kindergarten, and over a couple of years, I held an art school in a double garage next to the YMCA in Hamilton.  I loved what I was doing.  I absolutely loved working with these young ones, but I also held classes for older children and some adults.   It was fun.   I had a huge supply of products, but soon had to close down my school as I was not charging enough for the services.    


2221. The subjects to be taught in children’s school are many, and for lack of time We can touch on only a few: First and most important is training in behaviour and good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws: to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.


And further, as well as in the ideals of character, instruction in such arts and sciences as are of benefit, and in foreign tongues. Also, the repeating of prayers for the well-being of ruler and ruled; and the avoidance of materialistic works that are current among those who see only natural causation, and tales of love, and books that arouse the passions. To sum up, let all the lessons be entirely devoted to the acquisition of human perfections. Here, then, in brief, are directions for the curriculum of these schools. Greetings be unto you, and praise. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet to an individual believer, published in “The Bahá’í World: 1972-1976, vol. 16, pp. 36-37)


I was given the opportunity to take part in an Art Symposium at a school in Te Aroha, New Zealand, and for 3 days and for 3 hours per day I took several children aged 9-11 years of age and taught them art.  In those three days, I had to take the children from sketching to a full painting. The results were astounding, in fact, so astounding that a High School Headmaster, passing by at the end of the exhibition, commented on the work of my students thinking that the people who created this display were adults.  When he was told that this was done by 9-11 year olds he said something like, “No way, we don’t even teach this to our students!” (Which would be 13-18 years of age.)   My question was, “And why not?”


How could a school not tutor their students in all forms of art? Surely, when these students begin learning about art and perfecting it, are they not then placed into a position of praising God and every method should be used to bring mankind closer to God?


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