Questioning Our Assumptions and What We Think We Know

Thinking about this meta-analysis of studies involving children asked to “draw a scientist.” More kids drew women as scientists over time, and girls drew them more often than boys, but it’s still encouraging for both diversity and perception of occupational roles.

Another thing I thought about, though, was the way it encourages us to question our assumptions about people and jobs. It’s a good thing to do that, and I wonder if art isn’t good training. We try to encourage each other to see with new eyes and to throw out what we think we know in favor of what’s there—and of what’s possible.

I’ve Been Pondering a Comics Thing for a Bit and Will Probably Continue to Do So

Finger sketching on the phone is hard with figures.

I’ve been looking at Supersons, the DC team-up of Superman’s and Batman’s kids. I’m not very interested in much that is superhero—despite enjoying several of the Marvel movies—but for some reason this really grabs me.

The boys are struggling with their own identities, not just because of the privilege of power (and wealth), but also abilities that are just beginning to develop. This might be worth exploring, but I don’t know if I care about getting into the series so much. Something like it, somewhere, though.

Stay Playful

There’s a component of kids making art that isn’t always connected to adults doing it. We often see art making as work. Children just see it as play. Or, probably more accurately, they don’t think about it as anything, they just feel like creating stuff and do it.

It’s so easy to get in our own way, worrying about our skills or motivation. We fear the reception of the finished thing won’t be good. All that gets in the way. This is another case where focusing on process or praxis can help. You start something because you need to, and damn the finished thing that happens somewhere over there, beyond us, outside where we can see.

Once again, we may have a map: an outline, a sketch, a chord chart. But the path can always deviate, and you may or may not end up where you planned. It doesn’t matter. The hardest part is starting—the premise of Wonder Boys aside—and getting into kid mode might help you do it.

Kidthusiasm

I’ve been looking at drawings by children. I’ve tried to remember how it felt to be 5 or 7 years old and make things on paper with abandon. Kids have less of the fear of starting and end product than adults do, and we could do better about remembering how they make stuff.

We could also do better at trying to capture their pretty natural facility with flow, the zen-like state of mind where everything melts away but the work. It’s a kind of reality oblivion, where you become—in a sense— godlike, in that you’re creating a self-contained universe.

That means nothing to kids, of course. They just feel the urge to make something and head off to do it. That’s dangerous in construction or engineering, but for art? It’s a boon.

Think Like a Kid

One more thing following on from yesterday: punk isn’t the only area where its participants don’t care about putting on airs or carefully crafting extravagant works. Kids have the same mindset. They only want to draw, doesn’t matter much or at all that they have no idea how you’re supposed to make it. It’s “just do it” as a creative philosophy.

SOME KID CREATION PRINCIPLES

  • You do the best you can with the tools you have around you because you *need* to make some stuff. RIGHT NOW.
  • There’s no time to spend worrying you don’t make lovely robot hands—or form a Gsus4 chord—you let it flow out of you until it’s time for dinner.
  • Be proud of your stuff and hang it on the fridge. It’s something new in the world and you put it there.

On Sheeple

Apologies if the title is triggering. There are a plethora of media exhorting us all to think for ourselves, and avoid following the group. But group behavior, while responsible for no small amount of chaos and destruction, can also be good. Individualism, taken to similar extremes, can be bad.

There’s a growing viral thread on Twitter about a 7th grader leading classmates in an ongoing spontaneous practical joke. Read the link for details, I won’t rehash it here. Because, of course, lazy. But some of the comments to the thread express worry that kids are engaging in dangerous groupthink and herd-following, and should be corrected, taught critical thinking, admonished. Because who knows where it could go horribly wrong in different circumstances? Getting caught up in endless permutations of alternate realities doesn’t engage what did happen. It’s just speculation and anxiety for imaginary slippery slopes. And, in fact, the incident is an example of kids rebelling against certain rigid aspects of their schooling. They are avoiding just going along with what they’re told. Irony?

On the other side of things are 9/11 Truthers, The Unabomber, Timothy McVeigh, any number of lone shooters, climate change deniers, and more. “Doing one’s own research” can be as negative as mindlessly following the group. I just don’t think I see that in this instance. Spontaneous group behavior can be filled with support and fellowship and drive for change, as exhibited in the Women’s March earlier this year. Context matters. Process matters. Groups aren’t necessarily mindless, sometimes they work together to do good. Or just to be funny.

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