February 4, 2012

Without art, the earth would just be 'eh'

My wish and hope and desire is to become an art teacher. Someday I will get a masters degree in fine arts, but the job market for art teachers is, well...limited. And shrinking fast. In fact, the middle school I teach in no longer has any extra curriculars: practically no sports, no music, no shop, no Home EC, no computer classes, and definitely no art.

I'm not one to give up on something I really, really, really, REALLY want, so...I started an art club! I feel invigorated and excited again about teaching after our first art club meeting on Thursday. Nine students showed up for the first meeting and I feel that more will come to the next. We had a marvelous time drawing shapes and creating a still life (well, one little guy drew dinosaurs and fish- the important thing is that he had a good time). I gave quite a bit of positive praise to everyone and let the students draw as they saw fit (hence the dinosaurs). While none of the students have a lot practice, they all tried their hardest and they produced wonderful drawings that I will proudly hang on the school's walls, proclaiming to all who pass by that art does exist in this place!
Basic Drawing
Our very first object.
This whole process was enough to make me giddy, but what really made me happy was how relaxed and at ease I was with my art lesson. It came so naturally! I joked around with the students and let my guard down, which I NEVER do in my normal classroom. It's hard for me let go of control enough to joke around with 23 eleven year-olds and just trust that we can come back down to a calm level (I wonder why). It was different with these guys: a smaller group, they all wanted to be there, and were therefore well behaved no matter what I did (like dropping all the still life objects in the loudest possible fashion. I then bowed). But it wasn't just that- I wanted to be there. It's important for the teacher to enjoy what they're teaching, and I'm afraid I've lost sight of that a bit in my English classroom.
M. C. Escher
Someday they'll be doing work like this!
In fact, there are many teachers that I know who feel drained, unappreciated, bored, overworked or a thousand other negative sensations that don't help us teach. Teachers are also blamed quite a bit for things that are wrong in education. It all adds up. It is such a pleasure to find something in the classroom that cancels all that out. I don't know why it took me so long to start this club, for it awoke my joy of teaching again. These little jump starts are sometimes all it takes to make it to tomorrow.

Speaking of jump starts, somebody out there got the bright idea of giving the image of a teacher a make-over. Apparently, the image of an apple, the ABC's or a pencil as the representation of a teacher seems old hat to some. I have honestly never thought about this before, until a friend sent me the link below. Now that the out-of-date image of a teacher has been brought to my attention, I agree that it might actually need a bit of an update. In this age where image is practically everything, teachers have a particularly negative one. I've always been partial to the classic icons of education, but the idea of 'connecting the dots' on this website might just capture the scope, purpose and delight of teaching. Check it out.

If you have any suggestions for my art club, let me know. We'll be making African masks this Thursday! 

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