No right or wrong

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The arts let kids explore choices

Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville


By reading this article you are demonstrating the traits of an involved, attentive parent; you are looking for tips and information to improve your parenting skills and give your child(ren) the best experiences you can afford.

Your well-loved child is often involved in sports (which is wonderful). They sit in tutoring sessions. They take tests and evaluations of every kind. As our children mature, each begins to feel the need to distinguish himself as being the fastest runner, the best dribbler, the most perfect speller, the nicest, the best looking.

A good kid worries that a wrong decision could disappoint his parents, teachers, neighbors, or friends.

By the age of six report cards look like score cards.

Kids go out the door each morning hearing: “Make good decisions today, darling!”

With so many opportunities to disappoint and the pervading impression many kids have that so much of life is hanging in the balance at each intersection, I am thankful that there is at least one arena for kids in which every creative decision can be a good one.


“The perfect lab for the safe exercise of every sort of decision, the arts provide a canvas that recognizes no right or wrong.”


Involvement in the arts gives kids positive control over their creative decisions. They allow a measure of abandon to all of us to which we can forever return.  The perfect lab for the safe exercise of every sort of decision, the arts provide a canvas that recognizes no right or wrong. Dancing freestyle.  (Is there a more beautiful marriage of two words?) The production of live theater requires rehearsal time, in part to give actors the opportunity to experiment with different interpretations, movements, inflections, motivations.  In fact, we often refer to an actor’s performance of a role as a series of decisions made by him.

The child can find in the arts a home allowing endless experimentation.  In the world of the arts, fear has no place because it is impossible for any creative, conscious decision to be wrong.

Christopher Logue captures the freedom the arts offers to the decision-weary child:

Apollinaire said    
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
Come to the edge!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.


There is a great deal to life that should be categorized as wrong or right. There are good decisions and very bad decisions… but isn’t it wonderful that your child can visit a place where whatever he chooses, it’s right?


Liza Zenni's PhotoLiza Zenni has been with the Arts & Culture Alliance since 2002. She holds a BA in Theater and a MFA in Arts Administration from the Yale School of Drama. From 1990 to 1995 she was Executive Director of Theatre Bay Area, the largest regional theater service organization in North America.  She and her two daughters live in Oak Ridge, not far from where she grew up.

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