Life in small town America

#44 – Still teaching

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Creativity has always been fascinating to me. How do people develop creativity? Over the years I have tried to use art, music, photography, dance and theater in my English classroom to invite students in to the conversations about literature and to spark writing ideas.

I believe creativity is something we nurture in children and that it is not innate any more that reading or math are innate. We must teach children to be observers and thinkers and reflectors about the life they live. When we do that we can expect children to generate new ideas and new things.

Although I am not a professional artist, I love to play with art and see things in new ways. As a small child, I had a great art teacher who took us to the school yard one day, not to play, but to observe. She asked us to get on our bellies and she put a small open square in front of each us on the grass. In this square, we were to look closely at what was going on inside of the square. Then, she gave us a piece of a small board with a piece of art paper taped to it and told us to draw what we saw. I remember drawing a worm and an ant playing in the grass. Little did I know that this was my invitation to observe life.

The arts can do many things for us. Music was so powerful to me as a teenager, whether it was buying my first 45 rpm record or singing in church choir, music spoke to my soul and much of the time as a teacher, I have relied on music to keep me calm and to help kids in their thinking process. When my brother died at the young age of 32, it helped heal my heart and mind because I could not fathom that he was gone. I often wonder how our kids would deal with life’s tragedies if we infused more music into the healing process. Fortunately for me, I work at a place where art therapy is a major and I get to see the impact of integration of arts in to peoples’ lives.

Last fall I learned the power of art to heal the mind. I had the opportunity to use a new art form I was learning to help heal my brain after a nasty fall that resulted in what doctors call CBI, or closed-brain injury,  often called a concussion. I spend days practicing Zentagle, a form of art using pen strokes to create designs. I had learned it earlier in the spring, from my great art teacher, Christine French, so the process of picking up the pen and drawing in this new way, helped my mind to refocus and heal more quickly.

As the school year begins, think about how you can help students be more creative.




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