Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MoMA for Teens

I encourage my kids, all young people interested in art, to check out The Red Studio at Museum of Modern Art! What a FIND! OK. I lie. I love this site. But maybe then I will never grow up. . . .

Oil painting here: The Red Studio by Henri Matisse, 1911

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Day

I’m not naïve enough to think we all teach in the same school with the same demographics, the same funding, the same community support and the same needs. Regardless of these widely varying statistics, our children all deal with "stuff." As such, I follow this with a short blurb about today’s events.

I spent a school day with a first year teacher/friend of mine in her secondary art classroom. She teaches in the penultimate economic middle class, with a few lows and a few more highs (hate those words as classifications, but they work for my purposes here.) The school primarily services, in fairly equal numbers, white, black, Hispanic and Punjabi students. Today most students were moderately attentive to getting their work done; typical adolescent diligence. Sounds kind of boring and uneventful, doesn’t it?

During the course of this one school day, Ms B stepped outside the classroom three individual times to attend to crying students. They all settled enough to return to their projects after a few minutes. She briefly shared their stories with me, and it wasn’t until I came home that I realized the sum of them.

The first girl was in tears because she is two months pregnant and had just made the decision to abort.

The second was in tears because her boyfriend just ended their two week relationship. Turns out she drinks at parties and he doesn’t like that.

The third was in tears because her lesbian girlfriend just ended their relationship of indeterminate length.

Boring and uneventful?

I have SO much to say about this, as any high school teacher worth their salt would. But my most immediate simple and apparent observations are such:

Our public rarely understands the events of a school day.

Standardized test scores are NOT important to these students. (Does that shock us?) Our children deserve to be treated as people rather than number-bubble-input.

And finally, our children absolutely deserve to be treated with respect as they tackle mature problems.

Kids are kids. I don’t doubt that children of 35 years ago had problems that were different yet the same- all equally catastrophic. I pray we remember, in the quest of higher math, science and reading scores, that we are also striving to raise resourceful, empathetic and responsible young people. They are our future and we as teachers are instrumental in creating the solid ground they are and will be traveling upon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Wisdom of Kids

I'm embarrassed to say that after the many years of teaching, I have yet to include my students' artwork on this blog. And I will further admit that they had some of the most profound statements, both in standard English and visually in art.
Find here some work by my Katie P. She is an incredibly happy little girl, but who walked into my class with a daily high school lament: "Today is the WORST day EVER!!" Somehow that sentiment didn't make it into much of her work, hence... happy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michelangelo's First Painting Ever?! At 12 years old.....

The Torment of St. Anthony.

So, what part of this is hard to believe? That these demons, dragons, and a saint are painted in oil by Michelangelo, that he painted it when he was 12 or 13, or that it has been acquired by the Kimbell Museum in TEXAS??

This is a must see slide show with details and story presented by the New York Times. Michelangelo rocks.

Left is the painting (be SURE to click on it for MUCH better detail); right is the original etching (preliminary sketch) documented as drawn by Michelangelo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Exceptional Stolen Blog

Thanks to Daniel Pink and his blog; really you must check it out. But if you're in a rush (really? and you're reading this?), I am happy to supply a few tidbits, stolen straight from his space (yep- these are still there- DO go look! I made it SO easy for you!)
In the midst of my schoolwork, I'm spending time, way too much time, studying visual culture and literacy. So Pink's website struck a beautiful chord today. How can we as educators, in ALL content areas, not be infusing all curriuclum with a bit of visual literacy? With visual culture on the rise (is it yet possible?) and the need for our kids to employ inference and interpretation, that is called thinking in my book, we do a disservice to students when we so not explicitly address the potential meanings in images in our environments.
Not that these two images required a LOT of interpretation, but for fun anyway: