I was working with a student the other day that was struggling with drawing. Nothing I said to him or showed him seemed to help. His response was always, “I can’t do this”. I must admit that I was becoming frustrated. I like to think that I can always find some way to connect to each student and give them the confidence that they need to succeed in drawing. This was a different case. I could not get through. I could not get him to see that he was capable of drawing and drawing well. I would spend a large amount of time with him daily, trying to break through and get him to understand that drawing was in him. I tried every teacher trick that I have in my bag. But still nothing could instill confidence in this kid with drawing.
Then it came out.
He finally said “I can’t draw because Mr.(insert name of a previous art teacher here) said that I can’t draw. ” I couldn’t believe what I had heard. This student had had an art teacher tell him that he could not draw. And as a result his confidence was shattered. In fact, it was so shattered that I was at a loss. I immediately told him that what that teacher had told him was untrue and that he could draw. Honestly I was still in utter shock. How was I to undo this. The unfortunate truth is that I couldn’t undo it. The damage was done. We need to be very careful what we say to people, especially students. They hang on every word we say. We truly have influence on them and thier lives. Encourage your students. Never limit them or tell them hurtful things. The damage is deep.