Hi, I’m Tanya, and this is a Rant About How I was Creatively Squashed as a Kid
I was about to go into fourth grade when my best friend at the time told me her parents were switching her from the Montessori charter school we both attended over to a new Waldorf-inspired charter school. Being familiar with Waldorf, my mom was seriously considering moving me, too. I was confused. In my kid’s mind I kept thinking, why? We already go to a good school. My only motivation all throughout school has always been my peer group. So I was starting to think hey, why not go to this new school? My best friend’s going there. Maybe I should too.
I don’t know if you know anything about Waldorf, but it’s actually a good philosophy. Waldorf focuses on creativity and child development based on the ideas of Rudolph Steiner. I got the impression that my best friend thought it would be easy because of this creative focus. (She wasn’t half-wrong. I think we only did actual math about once a year there. Okay, a couple times a year. But that was the school’s fault!) I convinced myself it would be alright. I loved the arts as a kid, and that school kind of got an artsy reputation during its run. Like I said, my main motivation in school has always been my friends. I love to learn, but structured education is just not my thing. So I figured if I had to go to school, an education with that creative nudge would be the way to go, right?
*Beep*, wrong!! I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now Waldorf in itself is pretty cool. Steiner had insight and made breakthroughs other forms of education and thinking hadn’t. It’s just that, this school didn’t know how to incorporate those theories into modern day culture. A lot of Steiner’s work had to do with understanding children and their perception of identity at different stages of development. So picture this: One of the rules of this Waldorf school was that we weren’t allowed to wear clothing sporting characters of any kind. Now picture me: a kid obsessed with Simba and Wishbone. (Yeah, I know. Fun, right? And you thought uniforms were a bad idea.) We also weren’t allowed technology. I remember watching in horror one time as our teacher tossed my peer’s Game Boy into the class trash can. And computers? Pft, forget them!
I had been putting on my own performance of The Lion King since I was seven and playing problem-solving computer games since the first grade. What the heck kind of creative world was this that I couldn’t be, you know, creative??
So was Steiner wrong? Nah, he was okay. Kids are highly impressionable, especially at the younger ages. It’s true that they’re prone to identify with whatever they surround themselves and what they absorb. Just like for ages kids have been playing with toy guns after watching western movies (or wherever it is people see guns as kids). What Steiner warned against was a loss of self; too much of anything, good or bad, and it could be detrimental to a child’s developmental health.
But is every child the rule, or are some an exception? I wasn’t just identifying with characters as a kid, I was acting as them. I was writing about them. For other kids it might not have mattered as much, but for me…that was my vehicle for creative exploration and expression. I always felt like my creative power as a kid – something Rudolph Steiner actually stands for – had temporarily been taken away from me.
Which makes me wonder, how many of us artists – whether we’re visual artists, writers, authors, filmmakers, musicians – are still squashing our creativity ourselves?
Tanya Marcy is a writer and artist with a love for marketing, online media, and the independent arts. She blogs at stickTnotes, where you can find her story tips and tricks, and her ideas about being a creative artist in today’s changing world. Check out her own art at deviantART and sample her writing at Figment