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Saturday, February 6, 2010

No more coloring contests

Judges of coloring contests are like dictators.

A dictatorship is a government fully controlled by one single individual.

Dictators have the power to make choices without the consent of the people.

Child began crying at an undisclosed school. Child was upset because he didn’t “win” a coloring contest. The boy had put a lot of time and effort into his picture. He felt that he should have won. Not sure what the winner of the contest had won. It was something the boy had wanted to win.

Contest rules: Each child was given five different coloring sheets. The child could submit one of her or his favorite sheets for the contest. The judge had to pick one out of 12 entries for the winner. Submitted entries included colored: dogs, cats, heart designs, angels, and various others.

Here are my concerns:

1.) Who says the judge of the contest has the ultimate opinion on what is good in art. It is only an opinion. What the judge feels is “good” may be a lot different from what I feel is “good.” It’s like music. I enjoy country music and would prefer it over many other types of good. Naturally, I’d pick a country song over a heavy metal song any day if 12 songs were submitted. Does that mean the other songs aren’t winners? Not quite. Believe they’re winners for going out and creating something.

In order to win a prize, a child could conform to the judge's one opinion of what is good. If a judge loves cats and hates dogs, then the child could learn, color a picture of a cat -- despite your own interest.

[CONTESTs Need A Warning Label]

Daniel Pink in his 2010 book, Drive, said, “that if you promise a preschooler a certificate for drawing a picture, that child will likely draw a picture for you – and then lose further interest in drawing…. We’re bribing students into compliance instead of challenging them into engagement.”

2.) Art should be done for the internal rewards. Color because it is something fun to do. Paint, create music, scrapbook, or do anything creative for the pure internal joy. It shouldn’t be done for something external. An artist who produces something heartfelt with passion and meaning will create something that is real. A person who creates something just to win a prize or to get money may produce something that is superficial and fake. Take a short cut to get to the award.

Here is one of my favorite books by Alfie Kohn: No Contest: The Case Against Competition. Basically, Kohn argues that competition destroys self-esteem and character.

My friend Sarah replied. Here is what she had to say:
The children of employees were the contestants in the coloring contest, and the residents judged their work. I couldn't believe how critical they were of the art work, even though they knew that children had colored the pictures, and that they were all under the age of 10. A big one was if they "colored outside the lines". How sad that we live in a world where "coloring outside the lines" is an actual concept! Like you stated, what may look like a mess to one person may be beautiful art to the other. Why have we created this idea that everything has to be the appropriate color and be inside the lines? Sad.

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