Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Incredible Lightness of Being

Wow, what an exhilarating time the month of March was for me. Last month was filled with incredible experiences and incredible expenditures of energy. My good friend and colleague, Kathy Douglas describes the feeling an art teacher has who produces a major student art exhibit and survives it as the "incredible lightness of being." That is exactly the way I felt after our student exhibit at Sugar Creek Elementary School this past March 18th, 2005. Top that with a whirlwind weekend at the National Art Education Association's annual conference where we had a family reunion of sorts with the founding members of our TAB Group.....Clark and I first met Kathy, Diane Jaquith, and Dr. John Crowe last year at the '04 NAEA Conference in Denver and it was such a thrill to meet up with them again on their home turf in Boston! We also got to meet TAB colleagues Nan Hathaway, Lucy Gatchell, Stacie Konesky, Laurie Anderson, Yoshiko Maruiwa and also met George Szekely and Kathy Topal. It was so rewarding to see everyone...I can't wait to visit all over again when NAEA comes to Chicago next spring....this time we will be on my home turf!
One of the interesting events of the Boston Conference was listening to Elliot Eisner speak. I was sitting with Clark and Kathy when Mr. Eisner started talking about deficiencies in current efforts at education reform and the ineffectiveness of standardized testing to support creative and imaginitive forms of thinking.....Mr. Eisner zeroed in on the importance of emergent curriculum, learning to think in the absence of rules and surprise and discovery in learning......and I think it was Kathy or Clark who said "He is describing a choice based art program..." And I said..."I know!"
Every spring, we do a large district wide elementary art exhibit called the Southern Hancock Schools Elementary Fine Arts Festival held at Clark's school. We have art combined with music productions from the three schools in our district. It really is a fantastic exhibit with the art and wonderful music performances from our hard working music teachers....But this year, I was very proud of our art exhibits. Every single work of art we had on display was different and unique....nothing was the same as in years past......Everything was authentic....We had those artist statements up with the art and it was very compelling....the statements from our kids regarding their art were in many, many cases, very profound.....I will publish some examples asap so you can see for yourself....right now, I am going to get some rest, and get ready for 1st and 2nd Graders on Monday.....until then, check back later....Clyde