What is the worth of an education in a world where love is not for all
But even more for none,
What is the worth of love in a world where education is not for all
But even more for none,
Where is the reciprocity,
In this world of inequality?
Over the course of this semester, I have not only realized the impact of cultural diversity on all aspects of the artist-educator practice, but also on any Critically engaged educational community. I am coming away from this course with numerous critical artist references, a handful of really great teacher resources, some new techniques for art making, and countless lesson plan ideas. However, the most impacting thing I am coming away with from this class is the experience of being a part of a group of Critically engaged artists educators, collaboratively working and sharing in an intellectual space where our personal artwork collides with our teaching practice and a myriad of aspects of cultural diversity, all interconnected with the work, practice, and cultural backgrounds of each other. A structure in which all elements of cultural diversity in relation to our teaching practice are freely questioned, interpreted, and discussed. One of the most important things I have learned as a result of this Critical experience is that there is an endless amount of connections and associations to be made, to ground your lessons in space of cultural diversity. At first, this idea was a bit overwhelming to me, thinking about how a certain art making process or contemporary artwork reflects this, interprets that, and questions even more. But as we continued to explore the interconnectedness of lessons or artists with various aspects of cultural diversity, I began to realize that all of these ideas and connections being thrown around were just adding to my educator toolbox and benefiting me in two main ways: Developing my capacity to create Critically engaged and culturally diverse curriculum, while at the same time building the potential in each and every lesson or artist example to be explored and taught in a vast number of different ways.
Although all the artists, techniques, and lessons presented may not have been new to me, I learned to think about them differently in this context of cultural diversity. For instance, I have studied the writings of bell hooks on numerous occasions before this course but as we discussed some of her selected writings together, a huge bell went off in my head when I read the line, “When we love the earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully” (p. 34). I suddenly realized cultural diversity connections in the realm of place-based education that seem so obvious I was shocked that it hadn’t occurred to me before. I had never considered linking bell hook’s cultural plight with the idea of learning about place and community, but now I cannot separate the two in my mind when thinking about teaching these Critical ideas of place-based.
I also began to think of artist’s techniques in new ways as a means of exploring cultural diversity and self-expression. The chalk drawing based images of Robin Rhode presented by Meaghan, the making of creative comic strips presented by Luthando and Caitlin, and the technique of making shadow puppets shared this past week by Maryam; All have such a wealth of creative potential for students to explore many aspects of cultural diversity and expression of personal narrative. I am so inspired to create lesson plans utilizing these artists and ideas to give students the opportunity to discuss and interpret both familiar and unfamiliar cultural narratives.
The class also provided me the opportunity to experiment with new mediums that I have always wanted to use with students, such as Geli’s demonstration of book making and Meaghan’s demonstration of paper sculpture by deconstructing books. Both have been techniques I have yearned to learn and I am eager to incorporate them into a lesson and explore their potential for a discussion of aspects of cultural diversity. Not only did the course fulfill my desire to learn things I requested at the onset of the course, but it also opened my eyes to eyes to some ideas, concepts, and techniques I really had no desire to learn about when they were put on the docket. For instance, Luella’s presentation of spoken word, did not appear to be something that I would find interesting, but as she performed a piece for us, showed us videos, and guided us in a spoken word writing activity, and I was hooked, wanting to know more. I’m glad that the class provided the space for me to learn about things that I not only wanted to know, but also exposed me to things I greatly appreciated despite not choosing them in the first place.
Another revelation to be treasured as a result of this course is the idea of the interconnectedness of art practice with teaching practice, as evidenced through Liisa Robert’s What’s the Time in Vyborg? It was an encouraging and inspiring realization for someone struggling to already find a balance between pursuing personal artwork with school/teaching. I found that to be such a great example of how one can influence the other, and vice versa, and how there does not have to be this great disconnect between your own art practice and your teaching practice. I now have a positive outlook on integrating my art practice into my teaching practice, for I know it can be done and I cannot wait to take this challenge on!