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5 favorites

Here is my paper, verbatim.  Sorry a tad dry!  Y’all rock!  Thanks and have a great break….

While revisiting the blog that our Cultural Approaches to Production class compiled over the past semester and reflecting on the skills and workshops that everyone shared, I am amazed by the depth and breadth of artists, art forms, and ideas that we put together. The lasting blog format is perfect, because I feel I need more time to fully digest and appreciate all of the material; I can’t wait to click on links I haven’t yet visited and be taken wherever those clicks lead me. Though it is hard to choose just five top resources, I was particularly inspired by artist M. Yahgulanass, the shadow puppet and stop motion animation workshops, the I AM NATURE presentation, and learning about comics.

There are a couple resources from the past semester that have directly informed my concrete thinking, particularly as I write my student teaching lesson plans for my thesis project.  The first is Flight of the Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas that Mary shared with us.  I adore the beautiful forms of Haida art, and so I was very excited that Mary showed us a contemporary artist who has not only created thought-provoking gallery exhibitions but has combined Haida art with Japanese Manga comics to write a beautiful narrative parable about the environmnet.  For my thesis, I will be looking at how art opens up a space for students to become aware of their emotional responses to environmental/ecological issues that can seem overwhelming.  I have struggled to find multicultural, contemporary ecological artists whose work is accessible to the K-8 population I will be working with since many interesting artists work in ways that are too large-scale or too conceptual for a young population and limited time frame.  Yahgulanaas’ story is a perfect entry point or younger students into the issues I am interested in because it deals with both the feeling of overwhelmed-ness we get about environmental issues and the belief that committed individuals can make a small difference.  I got even more excited about the possibilities of creating a meaningful lesson based on this book after Mariam did her shadow puppets workshop.  The art form seems to go hand in hand with the imagery in the book and the narrative structure, and what elementary school student isn’t going to love making shadow puppets when we, as adults, were so excited?

The I AM NATURE project that Drea presented has also informed my thinking about approaching sustainability and ecology with urban youth.  The main point that I took from this project was that students cannot care about nature if they do not feel they are a part of it, if they feel that it is something outside of themselves.  Engaging students in creative exercises, such as writing poetry, is a great approach this topic.  The subsequent place-based approach of students researching sustainable design by redesigning a space that was important to them, their school roof.  I was amazed at the out-of-the-box thinking demonstrated in their designs and am excited about doing something similar someday with students.

Although I have less concrete ideas about how exactly I will use stop motion and comics, all touched on by Molly, Meaghan, Caitlin, and Luthando, I am very excited about incorporating them in my teaching someday.  I am attracted to these two forms because they allow students to tell stories in different ways and work collectively. Stop motion is accessible to students who may not feel that they are “artists” in the traditional sense, but they can all move objects and take pictures.  The comic strategies Caitlin and Luthando shared were also great because—through our stick figure exercise—we saw that stories can be told simply and powerfully without tons of artistic detail.  However, Luthando showed us that drawing in a comic style is something that can be taught and practiced by all ability levels.

It is exciting to know that I have a teaching career ahead of me that will give me chances to make many of these ideas into concrete lessons.  The resource that we collectively created is definitely not at risk of getting shelved after grad school is over.  Many thanks to all who contributed to my learning!

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This class was a delightful  dessert to have right in the middle of my oh so bitter school schedule.  As a student, artist, educator, and cultural producer…this class really filled my mind up with ideas that I can work with for years to come. The best part about it..is that it was not text book blah blah knowledge…hehe…but it was shared information from my peers.  Imagine if everyone (like EVERYONE) took 3 hours a week to share super useful information amongst each other.  In the beginning I was feeling salty about having to do a presentation every week, but it was the best thing ever now that we are ending.

At the start of the semester, I felt I didn’t have time to be the artist I once was (now dealing with all of the education jazz)… and this class was a breath of fresh air.  This class inspired and reminded me every week to take time for myself and also taught me how to start to find the balance between being a cultural producer and educator…and not necessarily as 2 seperate roles, but also merge them into one.  Each one of us brought something so individually sweet to the table every week, and I just want to say how helpful it was, Thank You 🙂

This is me saying YES! We all can be Revolutionary Educators

EVEN THOUGH IT IS HARD TO CHOOSE ONLY 5….Yes only 5…. Here it goes!

1. Inflatables… (I think this was a giving because of how I acted…one tape 🙂 LOL)

…..Mackenzie always brought some earthy element to the table, and I am down for that movement.  The activity was great because it showed how group collaberations can be fun…and the outcome even FUNNER!…and I know..that is NOT a word.  “PARTY IN THE INFLATABLE”

2. Shadow Puppets… Maryam and her shadow puppets…oh how I love thee.  Shadow puppets never seemed so fun.  What a great lesson to use, technique, performance, and collab… awesome.        “POW”

3. Drea’s presentation: A lot of times the only way I see what a teacher does is if I google their name…because teachers sometimes are really quiet about their work, and her presentation was really inspiring.  I felt cool that my teacher was doing something so righteous in my surrounding communities.  When she talks about her work, her passion for her work is clear…and that makes me want to be as passionate about MY work when I speak about it.

4. Meaghan and her boo Robin Rhode 🙂 … hehe. What a great artist that is actually COOL to kids!  You can take so much from his work, and use it in so many different lessons.

5…. I really can’t pick a 5th one… every week I took SO many notes in my sketch book because there was just so much good stuff… BUT i WILL say…I appreciated Katie’s talk about mediation, yoga, breathing, ect.  Lately I have felt like a different person because of my work load, and it was a reminder and another push to breathe…and keep going.  Living in the present is crucial… but its so damn harm. Excuse my language…but aren’t we always think about everything… past, present, and future…SHeesh it’s hard out here.   Thanks for the reminder… we all need to remember to breathe and relax, “Get ‘cha mind right”.………Thank you everybody… You all rocked my world.

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“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” 
- Will Durant

“The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.” 
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” 
– C. S. Lewis

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” 
– Socrates

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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!

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Just thought I would share some blogs I like to visit with you all before our class comes to a close. They are all art ed-y or social justice-y or cultural production-y, so there should be something for everyone to dip into here! Enjoy!

The Carrot Revolution

The Art Teacher’s Guide to the Internet and you can follow the writer/arts educator on twitter here!

Thriving Too

Social Capital Blog

The Teaching Palette

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Accessible Art

Leaving Cultural Approches to production, I will take away with me I take with me a reignited passion for teaching with cheap materials such as plastic bags, paper mache [piñatas] and stop motion animations all thanks to Mackenzie [inflatables], Mary[stop-motion] and Maryam [artist Blu & Pes movies].

Also, because of Lulua’s uber-cool and hip spoken word piece and the graffitti artist Blu that Maryam showed us, I am now also very inspired to remain enlightened on current day issues and pop culture with the generation of students we are teaching.  Although as of the moment we are not much older than some of these high schoolers we are teaching, there eventually will come a day when we are much older and are having a harder time connecting with the pop culture that will be embedded in lives of our students.  They might even start using lingo that will make us go….”HUH???”  To this I say – we must MUST try and understand it for the sake of communicating with our students and making learning fun and interesting for them.  Thanks guys!

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Thanks to the wonderful presentations done by Mackenzie, Meaghan, Mary, Amanda and other I was able to come across a common theme that we have all agreed should be one of our pricipals during the presentations.  That was that it should be cheap, and fun.  What cheaper way to make art than to find garbage and to use that in art, or other found materials.  This not only promotes recycling and reusing, but to also look at our everyday lives in an artistic content.

The following presentations helped me come to this conclusion.

1. Mackenzie’s Inflatable

2. Meaghan’s Used books

and favorite artist Brian Dettmer

3. Amanda’s artist Vik Muniz

4. My own Japanese Stab book

5. And the artist Tara Donavan

other presentations that could be tied in are Song Dong, and the Wonder Cabinets.

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