Boundaries

One of the reasons that art is put forward as a good thing is that it enhances the ability to think creatively. Often, though, art and artists are considered 'out there' due to this...unable to work within boundaries, without an ability to determine what is freedom of expression, and what is just overstepping 'boundaries'.


Perhaps this is why some people dismiss art or are even frightened to be involved in art activities, much more so their children. In my readings for my DCA, I have certainly come across this kind of thinking. In my years as an art teacher, there has been more than one person who has regarded me as some kind of radical nutter who will infect their children with anti-disestablishment ideas. Of course, there is some truth in this...I am hoping that I can help kids start thinking outside the square through art and not be so quick to embrace the neoliberal ideologies they are surrounded by and constantly force fed by society.


An authority on art education, Gert Biesta, argues that the justification for art in schools should not be about unsupervised creative expression because that expression could be in some way negative: it could be judgemental, discriminatory or endorsing something that is harmful, for instance. Rather, art can help young people by confronting issues and through creative expression learn to live better in the world. This obviously requires the input of someone who can help those young people live and interact in the world to make it a better, safer, kinder place for everyone.




So there are boundaries, and rather than let our children run into them head on and become damaged in the process, we need to creatively teach them where the boundaries are, why they are there and, if necessary, teach them creative ways to deal with or even dismantle them. We need to teach them that some boundaries are there for their own good, and sometimes there primarily to benefit others who are disadvantaged in some way.


In my many years experience as a teacher, I have come across many parents and carers who believe that children should grow without boundaries - be completely free to explore without consequence and to 'discover' the way the world works for themselves.

This, I believe, is a disservice to those children. Indeed, I have borne witness to the fallout of this stance on those children - exclusion from social groups and even schools; and at times exclusion from society itself in the form of custodial punishment. If we refuse or neglect as adults to guide children regarding their boundaries, those children are at risk. Either, they will risk dangerous encounters every time they cross a boundary they are unaware of, or someone will make it very clear to them that they have overstepped. Sometimes in a far from kind and gentle way. They will be totally unable to see which boundaries help society and which hinder, and will have no way of navigating a way forward. Added to that, we risk them becoming selfish, self-entitled, inconsiderate and ignorant adults. I think most of us would agree that we have too many of those already.

© 2020 by Ann Russell. 

  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Pinterest - White Circle
  • w-facebook

Ann Russell, Cashmere, Qld, Australia | ann@annrussellart.com | 0438410145