Archive for the ‘personal balance’ Category

“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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Do you have the body language of a good teacher?  Or is this you?

Good teaching?

Using Drama Skills in the Classroom by James Hanley
Body language

All teachers can use appropriate body language to create the desired atmosphere within their classrooms, for example:
* Exaggerating movements when explaining something to the whole class. This should capture and hold the students’ attention and can be used to emphasize important points.
* Walking towards the person who is talking, even if it is only one or two steps. This can have an incredibly positive effect on individuals, boosting self-esteem by physically demonstrating an interest in what they say.
* Responding by smiling and nodding when a student is talking.
* Keeping eye contact with the student who is talking and showing enthusiasm with facial expressions.
* Walking around the room during a discussion so that the whole class feels involved.
* Avoiding ‘closed’ body language (such as folding arms) and physical signals that can distract from the learning process, for example: constantly checking the time or looking at paperwork that has nothing to do with the lesson.

It is easy to forget that students absorb more information from what they physically see than from what they actually hear. It is also important to remember that nonverbal communication is generally thought to be more‘honest’ than verbal communication; if your body language is positive then students are more likely to trust you.


Students with Disabilities

When you are considering your movement and body language while teaching, remember that not all students have the same needs.  Be aware of all of your students needs.  Can they hear you, see you, and physically access you and the necessary materials for the project?  Are some students more sensitive to sound or motion than others?


Cultural Considerations and Body Language

In North America, for instance, we commonly use our arms and hands to say good-bye, point, count, express excitement, beckon, warn away, threaten, insult etc.  In fact, we learn many subtle variations of each of these gestures and use them situationally.   We use our head to say yes or no, to smile, frown, and wink acknowledgment or flirtation.  Our head and shoulder in combination may shrug to indicate that we do not know something.  While the meaning of some gestures, such as a smile, may be the same throughout the world, the meaning of others may be completely different. (See full article on Hidden Aspects of Communication.)



Also keep in mind that some students may a history of physical abuse.  Be comfortable with your students, but respect their personal space.  Be aware of students’ physical comfort or discomfort with you.



Keep all this info in mind, but don’t let it take away from the fun of being in a room full of young artists. Use this free worksheet to draw the face and body gestures of your Perfect Teaching You.

Teaching and Body Language

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artifact room detail 1Ever since I was a child, I collected things.  Things from my backyard, things from the woods, things from abandoned houses, wire, glass, shells, old wood, cattle bones, rodent skulls, unidentifiable objects, the list can go on.  I guess I was one of those kids that was fascinated by the objects that make up our world and collecting was a way for me to fantasize and learn about the stories, histories, or secrets these things possessed.  Now, later in life, I have come to understand how my childhood hobbies have influenced my career since I have become an artist and teacher who is interested in exploring our complex world through the discovering of things.  In other words, I want to not only find ways to integrate science into the arts classroom, but ways to critically examine visual culture and use things as inspiration in the art making process.  With this in mind, the intriguing history and use of the Wonder Cabinets, or Cabinet of Curiosities, in contemporary art came to mind.


Ole Worms cabinet etching

“Musei Wormiani Historia,” Ole Worm 1665

Cabinet of Curiosities are exactly what the term entails:  a cabinet, or some sort of furniture, that houses a collection of strange, interesting, mysterious, wierd marvels of nature and human cultural productions.  Now, I imagine these type of cabinets to have started over hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago, since I view collection to be an ancient act or practice our ancestors most likely engaged in for whatever reason.  Us humans are inclined to be curious and are designed to investigate the things that make up our worlds.  Besides this, the first Cabinet of Curiosity was often associated with a Dutch man named Ole Worm.  He is known for his research in embryology, but become more popular for being an avid  collector of things.  During the Renaissance, Ole Worm, along with Athanasius Kircher, were the two most well known people to have a Cabinet of Curiosity.  During this time, these collections became the craze and were often something the wealthy could show off to their friends during gatherings.  Yet, these cabinets were not only for the aristocrats and famous, but also was a part of the merchant class and practioneer homes.  Collecting and displaying mysterious,objects was for everyone and is acknowledged as the precursors of our modern day museum collections.


The objects that could be found in the old versions of Cabinet of curiosities were endless and usually involved things that were not yet categorized or labeled by western science.  The collections often were objects we now associate with anthropology, archaeology, botany, ethnography, natural history, geology, and relics of religion and ancient civilizations, much of what you find in contemporary museums of art, history and science.  What is interesting is how these early cabinets are also known to for creating many fictitious ideas about various items, cultures, and origins of things, giving birth to many myths and legends we all find fascinating and sometimes degrading.  With this in mind, the Wonder Cabinet can be a great avenue to start critically investigating with students cultural production, history, science, and art all in one.



What I find most interesting about these wonder cabinets is the potential it has for helping us decipher and understand visual culture of contemporary society.  More and more, visual culture is a critical and dominant theme in art education, emphasizing the importance of youth having access to learning experiences that incorporates what they see and use everyday.   I cannot help but connect this current trend in art education to the amazing potential of using the idea of collecting, categorizing, and analyzing objects in the art classroom.


Kevin Rej, 418 pieces of pop-culture


All this talk about Wonder Cabinets has me thinking about the artists that are continuing this old tradition in contemporary art, but in a very post-post modern way.  One artist that comes to mind in Mark Dion.  His installations emphasize an interdisciplinary or integration-like approach to art making.  By  using familiar forms of display and scientific-like work processes in unconventional contexts, his collections  brings into question the traditional, or dominant voices in western science, knowledge, and inquiry. Moreover, Dion’s work invites us to question how dominant forms of thinking influence history and how we understand the world.  His work is very interesting, and I encourage you to explore him more.  Below I have posted some images of his work.


Providence Cabinet, 2001

Hand-built cabinets with mahogany finish, filled with finds from the Providence Dig, 100 x 74 x 19 inches.


New England Digs, 2002


Scala Naturae, 1994,

Courtesy of Tanaya Bonakdar Gallery, NY


Mark Dion – Aviary (Library for the Birds of Massachusetts), 2005


Wonder Cabinets are not just for science, installation, or sculpture anymore.  In the age of 21st century digital technology, wonder cabinets have found their way onto the internet in the form of blogs, such as  Wunderkammer, Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities , and Bioephemera to only name a few.  Blogs are becoming sites where people house their collections, finds, or discoveries that resemble much of the old tradition of the Wonder Cabinets.  Many of these blogs are even called “Wunderkammerns”, the dutch word for Wonder Cabinets.  As for art education, the blog can become another avenue to document and give space to the wonderful creations and forms of cultural production our students will be creating, collecting, investigating, manipulating, critiquing, …..I think you get the point.


Some Elements of Sculptural Crochet, (creator unknown)

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