When my daughter was nine years old, she gave me a Picasso. Not the one pictured above. This one:
I love my daughter’s rooster. It sits in my kitchen, propped against the wall over the cooktop. Sometimes it gets hit by spaghetti sauce splatter. Bacon grease too. And the rooster’s wandering eyeballs remind me of how I often feel: a bit “on the edge.”
But when my girl gave me this painting (made in an art class that focused on replicating “the masters”), I wondered, Did this exercise teach her new skills, or did it teach her to be a copycat?
Then I remembered 11th grade AP English. My teacher, Mrs. Deluca, was a wonderfully wise and elegantly ancient woman, always dressed in the fashion of the 1940s: sheer stockings, square-toed pumps, wool pencil skirts, airy silk blouses. Her hair always looked straight-from-the-beauty-parlor prim, her soft, pink face powered, then rouge’d. I loved her.
When I walked into her class on the first day of school, I had no idea that I had no idea how to write.
My 9th grade English teacher had done a fantastic job teaching me how to diagram sentences. My 10th grade English teacher had done an equally fantastic job making me dislike Dickens. Neither of them had taught me a single thing about writing an essay. [Read more…]