Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Need More Teens Taking Art Camps

My mom was surprised that the screenwriting camp I took last week didn't get canceled.

It only had seven students, including me. It's a good thing it wasn't held during the school year, when classes would be once a week, or there would be a point where only one student comes to class. That happened to my Mom when she was teaching class during Spring Break.

Oh, and I wanted to take a Directing class two years in a row. Both times, it was canceled due to low sign-up rates.

And it's not because attendance is declining. Not at all. With many camps for younger kids, there's often full attendence, waiting list for just in case someone withdraws, and even multiple sessions created if there's high demand.

So what's with the low teen attendance then?

Reasons why there are less teens taking art classes:

First of all, many parents put their kids into summer camps so they're doing something for the summer. It's something more than daycare. I know this personally. Throughout the years, I've heard campers asked why they're in the class, and their answer would be something along the lines of "because my parents want me to". It makes sense, especially if the camper is young and can't stay home alone.

But the teenage years come, and now they can stay home. Or they have more agency to hang out with friends. Or they're able to drive someplace else. Or they have a part-time job. Therefore, less potential teen campers.

Second of all, and most importantly, arts among teenagers just isn't as encouraged. As we get older, left-brain academics are emphasized more. Less creativity, more tests. Marketing is also less orientated. The theater series Mom's art institution does is either advertised for all ages, or for children, but never mainly teens. It's just isn't a high-demand demographic.

Is this a problem?

To admit, it isn't a huge problem. More like a worrying observation. It can be just local.

Small classes are good. The teacher gets to interact on a more personal level with each student, and the students get to know each other better. Also, there's more flexibility for the criteria, because we're all older and a consensus is easier to reach. I'm taking a poetry/prose writing class right now. There's only eight people, and it's an ideal number.

So...why?

On the other hand, with low demand, less of these kind of classes are possible. It lowers opportunities for teenagers who want to try artistic pursuits. 

We need more teenagers taking art classes outside school. Even if they don't want to be an artist for a profession, having at least some knowledge can help later in life. My mom also teaches corporate workshops combining creative exercises with business-orientated ones, and it helps.

We can't neglect half of the brain. Neglecting is a disfavor.

How can we fix that?

Simple answer: push teens to at least consider taking art classes.

If you're a parent of a teen, research camps and classes nearby, and bring them up with your child. If they don't want to, that's fine, but if they're interested, help them. You might create new opportunities for your child.

If you're a teen and you want to take art camps or classes, talk about it to your friends and peers. Consider taking the same class. It's a great way to hang out while doing something fun and productive.

And it's not limited outside of school. You could establish a club. That can lead to oodles of benefits down the line, academically, socially, and emotionally.

And if you're an art teacher...please comment. I'll like your side of the story too, besides my Mom's.

It's a minor issue, but it's one we can help solve.

What's your experience with art classes and camps? What are some other ways to encourage teens to consider creative pursuits?

Chihuahua Zero's computerized signature.

PS: Before I stumbled upon this idea, I considered writing a post on Kanye West, but I couldn't tie the idea back into teen trends. I mean, his art is crazy, but in a good way. Just put your thinking cap on when listening to the lyrics.

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