Much of my adult life has been spent working as an advocate for the arts in education. I believe that all children should be exposed to visual art, the performing arts and literary art. They should be allowed time and thoughtful consideration for artistic projects and never feel that art is, in any way, a competitive activity. While it may be important to develop aesthetic discernment as one becomes an adult, I believe that this has no place in the artistic life of a child. It negatively affects a child when his/her creativity is placed on a scale. Not only can this turn a child away from the arts, but it can also affect self-esteem. Children don’t understand that whoever is evaluating their work is basing his/her judgment on a subjective set of standards. A critical word can crush a child. This is absolutely the opposite of what I feel the arts should do for children.
I taught theatre in New York City schools, developed cross-discipline arts programs in Los Angeles and worked for many years at the All Children’s Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island, where I developed multi-age musical theatre curriculum. The All Children’s Theatre is a nonprofit committed to bringing out the best in each individual child. When I started my own children’s theatre workshops in Vermont, I took what I’d learned at ACT and applied it to my own work.
I’m also a trained Rudolph Steiner teacher and taught in the Waldorf educational system for many years. The emphasis in Steiner schools is on the imaginative and artistic life of the child, the fostering of independent thinking and the taking of intellectual risks. The Waldorf curriculum works to integrate these aspects into the development of each young person.
Though I am not currently working on a project in the realm of children’s theatre, I maintain the role of advocate for children in the arts and look forward to future collaborative projects with and for children.
“As far as the education of children is concerned I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”
Natalia Ginzburg, The Little Virtues