NoNo Boards.

I was trolling the interwebs and gathering up some of my favorite links to post in my sidebar. I was scrolling through one of the blogs and came across an interesting and provocative post. This guy is an Art teacher and he hangs a “NoNo” board in his classroom. It’s a series of pictures of “typical” drawings that Art teachers really do dislike stick figures, childish trees, corner suns, etc. You can check it out here.

I think initially this is quite offensive. We’re educator’s of creativity. How can we tell a child “No” so boldly. I didn’t react aggressively to the post but I did and still do disagree with it. I brought it up with the hubs and we had a long conversation about it. Question: is this saying no to something created or is it presumptive? Mike thinks it’s presumptive and that it’s just there as a deterrent to the go-to art drawings. “Yes,” I agreed “but I still don’t think it should be put out there in that way.” I think I understand where he’s coming from but in my art room I just verbalize it through the use of “Don’t copy me” and “I think that’s a great start but I think you could add ‘blank’ or work on ‘blank’.” The comments were a bit emotional and overboard but it brought up a good discussion with the hubs. I get that we have to put out there that perhaps one way is wrong but all these other ideas are right instead of this one idea is correct and the rest are wrong. I get that and try to encourage it in my room everyday. There’s always the trouble of putting something out there (as he said) and knowing it will be judged. I don’t know how he runs his room and have no doubt that he is encouraging his students. I’m not convinced this is the way to do it though. What do you think? No need to muck up your replies with emotions. Thanks!


About repletewithclass

wife. art teacher. whirlwind.
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4 Responses to NoNo Boards.

  1. Christine says:

    I see your conundrum here. Let me comment through my own experience, by saying that the single most influential thing that I took from years and years of art class through elementary and middle/high is this very principle. The minute my art teacher pointed out that there are no ‘outlines’ in nature, it was like a lightbulb went on. Once you understand it, it seems obvious…but until that time, you really don’t think about it.

    I think perhaps the ‘NoNo Board’ is a tad harsh, but I agree with its function. Of course, there needs to be a line here…for young children, creativity should be encouraged in any way. But I think the age when you can start instilling these other principles should be much younger than most people would think. I don’t see anything wrong with pushing young adults’ idea of what art should be; I think it is much more effective than enabling mediocrity just to keep them occupied. I’m not saying in any way that this is something you do or would do, I’m speaking generally here.

    I had a terrible elementary art teacher, so when I got to middle school and was fortunate enough to have two amazing teachers, I definitely saw the difference. The one thing I took away from this art education – which lead me to major in it in college – is that they had trust in our young minds that we could do something more than average. This trust makes it much more likely that they WILL “put themselves out there”…but at the same time, I feel the educator must push the student to realize their potential.

    Ultimately, with the ages of children you are teaching, college seems quite far away. However, I still remember everything I did, every year, and it all built up to me choosing it as a college career. So you are definitely influencing them. And I believe that for that reason, when that line of age is right, they should be pushed – because…if they choose art for a major, they are going to get a serious reality check. I am grateful that I was made to understand that you don’t have to ‘like’ something to appreciate it.

    Long-winded, but those are my thoughts! Yes, educators should encourage creativity and not squash the therapeutic nature of it – however, this is not its only aspect, and one of the most important lessons children need to learn is to look beyond what they normally ‘like’, and open their minds. 🙂

    • repletewithclass says:

      I agree with you and to not sound silly, you sound just like your brother! These were some of the same things that he brought up but I couldn’t keep hold of long enough to write down. As I said I would rather verbalize it. To expand on that thought I would much rather verbalize my expectations because it yields a discussion about why I’ve asked for what I’ve asked of them. I totally agree that outlines are something that you should not walk, but run from. I’m just not convinced making it a fixture on a bulletin board in the art room is the way to do it.

      I recently came across your high school design teacher’s website and had to email her because, whoa, small world! She says ‘hi’! Thanks for reading!

      • Christine says:

        Ha, no way! She’s seriously amazing and a real avant-garde HS art teacher, haha.

        And what can I say…great minds think alike 😉

        Hope you’re both well.

  2. Mr. E says:

    I just found this post! 🙂 Everyone is welcome to their thoughts on the No-No Board. It comes down to… I know what works in my classroom after 14 yrs of teaching…I know how my students respond to me & this idea of “no”….and I hope you can see from my blog…my students create amazing works that are born from their inner creative spirit! For me the No-No Board gives them more tracks to run on..not breaks to stop them! I say no to an icecream cone/lollipop tree…but yes to a million other tree forms that are much more lively. I say no to letter birds…but yes to funny faced birdies that bring joy to the makers/viewers! Every no has countless yes(s)….the Board …as I tell my children…isn’t so much a reminder of what you can’t do….but all the things you can..and my job is to be there to teach them those things!!!!!!!!!!!!

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