Feed My Curiosity
Published on August 25, 2009
When I was a student teacher teaching high school, there was an opportunity for me to take a handful of students to an all-day Art workshop at a local Art organization. It was only and exclusively for Honors students. I checked over the paperwork multiple times, and there was no where on the forms that required proof that the students you registered for the workshop were actually in the honors program. So I took the kids that were the troublemakers, low achievers, and the ones that did not fit in–and left the honor students back at school! My reasoning being…the honor students get enough special perks, rightfully so, but I had a feeling that this opportunity would, at least I hoped, be life changing for these students that rarely have an opportunity to shine. The cool thing about this workshop was that it reached across the Arts. I put the shy, very quiet, tiny ninth grade girl into a “stage combat” workshop for the day!! I put the boy that always mouthed back with some quick disrespectful comment into the “stand up comedy” workshop. I put the awkward, underdeveloped 11th grade boy into “drumming”, the girl with very low self-esteem that was not the most talented at art, in a “ceramics” workshop and so on. The morning of the workshop all of us misfits loaded into a big yellow bus, and with noone saying a word to each other, we headed off to Honor’s Art Workshop!!! (I should add, that I didn’t tell the students either that it was Honor’s workshop…I only told them that I took them because I thought they had special gifts in the Arts.) While they were there I got to cruise the galleries of the Art organization, drop into the workshops and observe, and meet for lunch with the other teachers…all the time keeping my little secret to myself.
Later that afternoon, all the teachers from around the city, gathered in the auditorium for the big show. Each workshop presented what they did on stage. I will never forget that day. The tiny, 9th grade, shy girl got on stage and majorly kicked ass!!!!! She punched, kicked, and threw boys three times her size across the stage!!! I was on my seat rooting her on like a nut!!! My mouthy, disrespectful little darling–he was the best stand up comedian there!!! That awkward 11th grade boy, that didn’t have any friends at school…he was the one with the mean drum solo–who everyone high-fived afterwards!! And, my sweet, beautiful teenage girl, that had no self-esteem…she stood on stage, with her clay castle in hand, speaking confidently into a microphone about her work.
When we got back on that yellow bus, when it was all over…the atmosphere was electric!! Everyone was talking and I bribed the bus driver into stopping at Dairy Queen so I could buy everyone a cone!!
I’m crying just writing and remembering this. It was one of the most inspiring and exciting moments of my life.
That’s what I believe being a teacher is about. That is what I believe education is about. Do you see why I have such trouble being where I am sometimes? In a place that believes the only thing worth anything is measured in higher test scores at the end of the year. It kills me.
So yesterday on Twitter and in my VIP room on Facebook, I asked all the Lovelies what they remember about Art class back in elementary/ middle school. I asked for the good, the bad, and the juicy! The answers I received ran the gamut. It’s sad to hear how many adults even grew up without Art class as part of their academics. Then there were so many stories of individuals still carrying the hurt from being told they weren’t good enough, or that their work didn’t make the cut.
I asked, because honestly, I was feeling a little down on myself as an Art Teacher. I just came from my once a month meeting with all the Art teachers in the district, and well, I’m different. I feel different. I teach different. I have different ideas about how to approach lessons, the classroom setting, the environment, the projects we do. In a lot of ways…I even look different.
Alot of Art teachers direct focus on learning skills and techniques. I teach those things too…but they are never my main and only objective. A lot of teachers do these projects that seem kind of boring to me…I only choose stuff that excites me, which I learned–then really gets the kids jazzed up as well. But I mean…c’mon I teach Rosemarie Fiore to my students!! What the hell is wrong with me?
I believe in creating engaging conversations about culture and thinking critically. I believe in teaching students to look at a piece of Art, as if they were looking at their own life, to find the subtleties, the metaphors, the clues that point inward to secrets and answers. I believe in helping students gain tools to create creative communities later on in life—to have the ability to work with others in brainstorming and being innovative. These are the things I focus on. There are no standardized tests for these things…or rubrics that could best assess their growth. I just bank on the notion that what I am offering them, might come in handy some day, or at least take a place in their subconscious. I hope.
So my friends, I’m really curious. I honestly want to know…what do you remember about Art class when you were in Elementary/ Middle School? Please tell me the good, the bad, and the juicy. You can leave it in a comment, or send me a message directly HERE. I really appreciate you sharing…it is helping me be a better teacher, and become aware of things I might need to work on.
I’m all ears!
Peace & Love.
PS Have you joined the VIP room yet? Go HERE
and check out the great conversation happening right now about remembering Art teachers!
Join The Paint Wisdom Newsletter!
My weekly newsletter is filled with studio updates,
announcements,& short musings intended to nourish your Artist Soul.