Did the title of this post make you cringe? It certainly took me off guard when a co-worker said this to me.
I am certain she meant it as a compliment. I am certain she has no idea how much it felt like a sucker punch.
I NEVER know how to respond to comments like these, especially when I don't see them coming, especially when they come from people who I thought understood what I really do. I just don't know how to respond.
Over the next few days this comment rolled around in my brain from time to time. What really bothered me about this comment? Did it bother me because it was partly true? Did it bother me because I feel I am so much more than a "fun activity"? And the answer is yes, yes to both.
Art is once a week and it is fun - so yes, art is a fun activity once a week. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all. I mean, when you think about things that are 'fun' what do they have in common generally -- laughter, good feelings, people, communication, engagement, the confidence to try something new and more. I am happy to say that often the art room is all these things.
I think the part about the comment that bothered me was that while art IS fun, its not the purpose of art. The purpose isn't to be fun, fun is a byproduct of doing something creative. Being creative is naturally fun - it's engaging, it's interesting, it often provides natural problem solving and critical thinking, and even natural communication points. I never plan a lesson to be 'fun' - it just happens when lessons are full of engagement and opportunities to make creative choices.
So, yes, while art is a fun activity once a week - that is not the purpose of art. The purpose is to provide young minds with another way to think, a space to take risks and not even know it, to grow problem solving and critical thinking skills, and to become more themselves.
In the meantime, I will try and come up with a variety of retorts to comments such as these that will help to educate those who think art is just 'fun' while honoring and owning the positives in such comments.