Art Lessons

This story (although not about poetry) explains succinctly and tragically the harm well-meaning (but unthinking) teachers can do to children. Art is a sacred right for children. Let them alone. Let them make it what they will. Who are you (oh evil teachers, we all had one) to tell me what is beautiful, to assign value to what I value? Fragile child, paint again, or write, or sing, or dance. Please.

As It Ought to Be

Art Lessons
By John Unger Zussman

One day in fourth grade, our art teacher passed out crayons and asked us to draw a picture of the most beautiful thing we could imagine.

I started with a verdant forest beside a lush green meadow. Above it I added a blue sky, wispy white clouds, and a yellow sun. And in the middle of the meadow, I placed a sleek, gleaming, silver rocket ship, pointed skyward and bearing an American flag.

It was 1960.  The space race was in high gear. The Russians had launched two Sputnik satellites in 1957 and the U.S. was trying desperately to catch up. Both countries were rushing to put astronauts in orbit. The excitement captured my nine-year-old imagination. I had even abandoned my beloved Hardy Boys books to pursue Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

Only now does the sheer phallic audacity of that picture make me…

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