Seeking beauty is something that most of us, as children of a creative God, do naturally. The Master of the Universe, God- the ultimate Artist, has instilled in us a deep desire to create and respond to beauty; we have built in beauty seeking detectors. Art is integral to our sense of well being, and ultimately, to the health and well being of our souls. As homeschoolers, we take seriously the pursuit of beauty and take seriously the ability to create beauty around us; for our selves and others.
The Basics of Seeking Beauty
Nature studies Sketchbooks and colored pencils, pens, erasure, paints, markers Time to think, reflect, ponder, mull Drawing instruction. We love Bruce McIntyres’ Drawing Sketchbook, Mark Kistler and Lee Ames How to Draw series Vocabulary and word study. Lately we’ve done this through Latin studies. Excellent writing instruction Humor -how to create and tell a good joke Story telling Scientific inquiry Logic and recognition of fallacies A good story Books, movies, magazines, live events Challenging activities History Theological studies Theater and Public performance Crafts Event Planning and creating programs
I’ve done a fair bit of creating myself: photography, stained glass, basket weaving, painting, scrapbooking, journaling, poetry, writing, DIY, house-crafting, and all manner of fiber arts. It’s just something I have to do. My husband is much the same way, though his creativity can often be found in areas like language studies (he’s on his 3rd) and intensive intellectual pursuit. When we share those creative pursuits with our kids they get the added benefit of our years of experience. We get someone to share what we love with. Win-win!
Creativity and Intellectual Pursuit
Which leads me to a point about seeking beauty; true creativity and artistic instruction is an intellectual pursuit. I created and taught a high school level Creative Writing Course a couple of years ago (best class evah- amazingly talented kids who really loved the work!) and they were shocked at the level of discipline the class demanded. We memorized poetry and learned forms, did writing prompts weekly, had a word count to reach every week, books to read and so much more. The kids worked hard in the pursuit of creativity. At the end of the year, they’d all written a novelette and had great tools in their writing tool-box because they were disciplined about their pursuit of creativity.
So often we look at “art” as free-from expression and devoid of plan or purpose. In fact, classic art- that which spans time and culture- is the result of startling discipline.
I propose that true art is mastery of a subject area that allows those participating in or viewing it to reach beyond themselves and hope for better things. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series is a great example. There are so many deep spiritual truths found in this simple imaginative tale, even the youngest reader can hear and see that God is good and for them.
But does art always demand mastery? Well, no. We can take simple pleasure and enjoyment in a great many things without excelling at them. And along those lines, I don’t buy the adage that practice makes perfect. Good, intentional practice allows us to reach for perfection. Schlock practice re-enforces bad methods and behavior. Seeking, and finding, beauty, requires intentionality.
Art Curriculum There are some brilliant curriculum’s out there- you know the ones. They take a difficult or intimidating subject matter and make it accessible to the point that you ever wondered what was daunting in the first place- IEW, Lost Tools of Writing, Story and History of the World, Old Western Culture, Classical Conversations, Henle Latin, The Grammar of Poetry, etc. It’s not that the student doesn’t have to actually do the work- it’s that the work allows them to excel quickly and well. These curricula are worth every penny. It’s worth doing the research to find it, and sometimes that’s an art form in and of itself! There are sites devoted to curriculum reviews as well as Facebook groups and Pinterest Boards that will aid you as you seek the best curriculum for your family.
Teach What You Know Often what you are good at, your kids will excel at. Imitation and all of that, not to mention that it’s far easier to teach what we know and understand. As a result our kids all know how to draw, cook, garden, write, speak, plan, study and memorize and understand exceedingly well theology, the Bible and scientific inquiry. Things I struggle with, they often do. But, that also allows them the added benefit of them watching me/us struggle through something that might be initially difficult- like dry-walling, upper level Math or learning Latin.This year our creative pursuits have included the study of Latin and integrating the culture and vocabulary in new and interesting ways, sculpture and drawing, ballroom dancing, cartography and nature sketches, along with weekly drawings of body systems, Flourish, debate, Drama, recitation, Shakespeare, the Piano Guys, Studio C, Tim Hawkins, Foyles’s War, Dorothy Sayers mysteries on DVD, violin, music theory, straw bale gardening, DIY projects, an arbor and an amazing display of Christmas lights, along with some great books and CD’s. You gotta have art. It’s as simple as that!
Stop by these bloggers for more inspiration on Art and Homeshooling.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – Seeking Beauty Through the Arts Yvie @ Gypsy Road – Art Museum Staycation & Elements of Art Unit Sarah@ Delivering Grace – First Things First Laura @ Day by Day in Our World – Add An Element of Beauty with Fine Arts in the Homeschool Lisa@ Golden Grasses – What Are We Fighting For? Annette @ A Net In Time – Art, art, and more art Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset – The Sounds of Music Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break – Music and Other Beautiful Things