Tag Archives: artist

Music to teach by:

Early morning, and as light flashed through the blinds and the sounds of a new day began with the street rumble my brain kept hearing David Bowie singing “Ch-Ch changes”, and I found myself marveling at how the singer’s vocals had so captured the feelings of worry and confusion major changes might bring on.  The near stutter evoked palpable fear- and the lyrics continue to suggest why and how major social upheavals will produce this worry.  We have mottoes today such as “change is good” and websites “teaching” how to be a disruptor, yet if people were actually to follow a blueprint for disruption then the bandwagon effect of everyone doing pretty much the same thing happens, and little “ch-ch change ” actually occurs.

Technology and education go together and regardless of what age or grade level one may be  working with, most educators do make use of various forms of “equipment”- computer, phone, i-pad, smart board, digital cameras, and even the lesser in vogue today but which schools may have on hand, audiovisual equipment such as TVs, and overhead projectors.  But the change today is to almost insist that the students are the ones offering the lesson in order to have them demonstrate some understanding of subject matter.   Academics still demands testing, be it in the form of board wide generated formal exams that are meant to provide a summative overview of where a group of students may fit within the big picture perspective of “learning goals” ( formally called objectives) or in the everyone”must” first acquire testing that either welcomes or eliminates students from moving to new levels  (any pre – program assessment test from the SAT through the GRE).

So what really has changed?  The day to day encouragement which in some ways may be reminiscent of apprenticeships of old, with a slight slant.  Many of the younger generation are technologically “gifted” that is swift learners when it comes to using and applying new technology, however this technology to “make sense” of Academic goals is still applied as a “tool” for learning, rather than the end means in and of itself.  Learning coding becomes a new strand neatly placed alongside IT courses, when really it could be right up there with Language Arts- coding is a form of communication – not only do computers speak with one another, but the person versed in code understands a language as does the person using vocabulary specific to any field of study.  And like the acquisition of any new skill, some basics must be learned /applied/understood, before the “creative” aspect that leads to “ch-ch changes” or real innovation will be demonstrated.

Bowie’s  song with its direct appeal that we ought to “turn and face the strange”  continues to be of value- when listening to ( “but I”) “can’t trace time” , the clear concept of a younger generation not becoming a carbon copy of its predecessors but instead further innovating and adding to the picture as a whole is both “disruptive” and positive-the singer readily acknowledging that time itself  may change him-allowing for his own growing and changing, as a reminder that it is not mere rebellion but is new direction.

Has education really changed? Or are we merely participating in that ripple effect which technological changes create? Bottom line, as educators, we are compelled to encourage the students to question-when they do so -like Bowie-they too may “ch-ch-change” things up.

Permission Granted – please DO

Sometimes a Great Notion… book and movie title and real life experiences…

I love using various art forms to enhance any level/grade lesson when English Literacy is the core focus.  We respond to art on two levels- primal and almost intuitive and academic- with the theories and knowledge which we have been taught engaging us in a dialogue with the object at hand.  Children who haven’t yet been “taught” to discuss the piece therefore comfortably share if they “liked” it! Watch a group of young children enter a new space, be it an art gallery or a playground, and see how they maneuver over the ground, tactile, involved, curious, and participatory.  The “new” emphasis on “maker” areas being developed within classrooms is really a return to a “tried and true” methodology; the idea that children and adults will gain through the combination of theory and practice- each on its own being only 1/2 of the story.

Here then to making math- the 1+1=2 understood as a form of literacy as well.  WE read scribbles, in what ever language, and we – people- humans- imbue these scribbles with “extra” meaning.  When the theory is unpacked, sometimes it is hard to believe that we have, as people, developed so many various ways to communicate our ideas, emotions, and hopes for the future- yes hopes, as I believe every artist/ writer/ designer and maker is offering a vision that contains within it a myriad of dreams and options for change.  Whether one is studying the presumed cognitive reactions of the mind and developing new theories with current scientific “facts” that today allow one to “see inside the brain” or creating music to share a set of emotions, creating/ making /doing /= participatory; ACTION is happening.

So as we enter into a holiday season that easily lends itself to the spirit of craft making, let’s cheer for those individuals neither famous nor well known who actively take time to: create personal decorations, write notes by hand, bake a present, sew an outfit,build a piece of furniture, carve a toy, redecorate their own living space…the list goes on and on…and reminds us to allow children to participate in these creative endeavors too- for they become the adults among us who maintain the ability to offer expression and with simplicity, beautify a day.

Do you ever get ” RUSTY? “

If I do, I know its time to change direction-

The rhythm of a school year is quite set- both students and teachers can feel the changes as May arrives- with June, there is a strong sense of completion- down time in the positive sense.  Here, in my place, I have one student graduating High-School, another just returned from studying, 5 months, abroad- and as mom, I love noting how these two young adults continue to challenge each other and themselves.

So…we are celebrating!  

All it takes to feel a little less stiff is a good belly laugh and hugs all around- school systems being what they are- hugs are rarely possible between students and teachers, so we have to hope that our students do indeed recognize the genuine warmth and best wishes that are offered along with the final reports.  Teaching privately to a range of ages gives me the chance to move to a different rhythm, in keeping with a student’s needs, and this in turn keeps me jumping- TRY it! Differentiated direct instruction makes one hyper aware of each student’s challenges and each student brings me a new perspective on what is meant by “learning” objectives.  ‘Cause as they grow- so do I. 

Tutoring also puts into practice the current “new phrase”,  bringing a “flipped” classroom experience to every session.  Students bring their questions, their curiousity and even their irritation to a lesson.  And while I would like them to “nail it” on quizzes and tests and any form of assignments they may have, I’m most impressed when they exhibit “polish” and shine with excitement as they share ideas-

“Polished”, “refined”, “sophisticated”; all antonyms to the original adjective in question; and the changes that I see over the course of months when working with writing skills.  But not at all “done”.  The challenge I give myself? To instill a genuine interest in improving, from an evolutionary perspective- at times. stochastic leaps, at other times, subtle, incremental steps towards a genuine understanding of self; not only how one learns best, but also how to keep learning.   

Tomorow I will be posting links to annotated book lists, by age, and to interactive websites.  So many students bring their cell phones to camp- I wish everyone would bring an empty journal and fill it with …what ever appeals. 

I teach throughout the summer, and bring a little bit of the outdoors inside whenever possible.  I also am known for encouraging my students and my children to recognize the truly symbiotic relationships between science and art; both require: dedication to a craft, working with tools and technology, practice and experimentation. 

Here is a link to an article featuring an artist who is combining the two fields and a potent reminder about the serendipity of innovation. 

 http://www.fastcompany.com/1839469/struggling-artist-turns-to-tissue-engineering