I often have very mixed emotions when I see people working with children and getting them involved in creating heraldry and coats of arms. One the one hand, I’m glad to see that they are trying to stimulate a little interest in the field. On the other hand, I’m often dismayed because they obviously do not really understand the field.
One example of something that can create this dichotomy in me can be found on a recent post on Ali Graney’s blog, Draw-A-Rama (http://drawarama.blogspot.com/2010/04/heraldry.html). Over a period of five weeks, they’ve been working with students at the Meynell School in Sheffield, England, to create “a textile banner populated with a personal Heraldic Coat of Arms, illustrating favourite foods, initials, symbols, plants and animals.”
[Picture removed at the request of Ali Graney.]
On the one hand, as I say, I’m happy that they’re getting the students at least a little bit interested in heraldry. On the other hand, the results often look very little like real heraldry. Indeed, most of the “arms” are quartered (something that in one way I’m relieved to learn is not solely an American failing, but still....). On the other other hand, it seems to me that many of the children have a better, almost innate understanding of the heraldic “rule of contrast” than many adults to whom I've tried to explain it; a lot of the childrens' designs tend to be of higher contrast.
So, like I said, mixed emotions.