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teachers please help...long

updated fri 22 jun 01


Joyce Lee on thu 21 jun 01

David Woof wrote -

>The one thing sacred and hands off must be the things that
come freely from deep inside the person of each of us.
facilitate that, protect that, honor and give it room and you will see a =
new dynamic. =20

Such a beautiful statement, David!

I further believe that the lovely, satisfying part of "teaching" art =
must be the awareness.... fully cognizant or not .... that one is taking =
the student to the highest level of learning, no matter how young the =
student nor how simple the project. I regret that as an administrator I =
wasn't attuned to the opportunities being offered by our art =
teachers.... whether performing arts or visual arts... although I DID =
thoroughly appreciate their contributions as caring teachers in their =
students' lives (which.... perhaps I was very lucky .... they all were). =
So many classes.... even classes the students considered to be =
"demanding" .... generally offered rote learning, with maybe a touch of =
analysis and synthesis toward the end of the semester...... with very, =
very few in any given subject matter EVER reaching the last step in any =
educational taxonomy ... the chance to be CREATIVE.... analyzing, =
synthesizing and, by all that's holy, CREATING something from one's OWN =
head or heart or soul. English teachers offer opportunities to WRITE ... =
to write creatively, in many cases... true ... but no class except the =
art classes facilitates such creative activity EVERY DAY ... EVERY =
SINGLE HOUR the class is in session.... and beyond.....

Again, we had a very fine high school with many, many of our desert =
kids going on to the largest, most prestigious universities in our =
country ... each year a few qualified for entry at the end of their =
JUNIOR year which meant that they moved directly to M.I.T or Harvard or =
Stanford etc without actually graduating from high school... we had =
several California "Teachers of the Year" on our faculty... we actively =
recruited from throughout the U.S., which brought us many of the =
brightest teachers available, especially in math and sciences. We did =
extremely well by our scholastically highest ranked students AND by our =
lowest ranked, learning challenged students.... manipulative materials =
and creativity abounded in many of their classes .... and sometimes, yay =
for us all, the learning challenged students were also part of the =
scholastically highest ranked... so, yes, we did indeed do well by =
them.... BUT our middle groups ... that vast arc on the old Bell curve =
.. too often missed out.

If I'd only known THEN what I've learned from working in clay after =
retirement AND from clayarters ... that IF some of our teachers =
themselves might not have functioned EVER at a creative level... that =
they of course couldn't recognize when students were doing so ... and, =
worse, couldn't APPRECIATE the student who was moving ahead of the herd, =
much less that such movement was part of our ultimate goal. (Hundreds =
of times I heard, "Joyce, just one question, how can you tell me that =
THAT student is "gifted"... somebody needs to redefine just what =
"gifted" means is what I think; he's 16 years old and can't even sit =
still in class; doesn't do his homework; is always blurting out; dares =
to challenge ME.... gifted! yeah, right." how many, many times I heard =
that cry for help and felt mostly scorn for that teacher and pity for =
the kid...) IF I had known, I'd have insured that each of those kids =
found his way to an art class so that at least once in his school years, =
he could have felt that creative=20
refreshment. Many did find their way, of course, and some I helped do =
so, but mostly because I knew the teacher was=20
"nice" and would be "good" to the kid... that he would at least not be =
harmed during her watch. NOW my reasoning would be very =
different....... might take this brand of thinking to the school board =
of education the next time they're waffling and considering reducing =
the number of art classes: THAT ART is the one area where students are =
EXPECTED to achieve the highest level of learning we can offer kids in =
our high school classes...... the too often ignored and underappreciated =
level of CREATIVITY. We all know that high standards of expectations =
result in high standards of performance.... bless all you art teachers =
who give up your own art enrichment and postpone your own artistic =
growth ... in order to focus on enriching that of your students ... with =
tiny budgets and accusations of being a bit weird as your reward... and =
not "real" artists, of course, since your living is made in education =
... as if an educator can't be a "real" something else also .... talk =
about limited thinking! WHO thought that one up? ...

I'm beginning to understand you.... the longer I'm on Clayart and the =
more I struggle to unharness my own creative urges, the weirder and more =
satisfied I become too .... yay for me......YOU GO ... WEIRD, ODD, =
UNUSUAL, DIFFERENT... just wait for me down the road......

In the Mojave