Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Upcoming screenings of

From: Mike South <>
Date: Sun Mar 25 09:31:01 2007

On 3/24/07, wmvh <> wrote:
> The trailer looked great! Would like to see the movie but live in Arkansas. I would certainly be interested when a DVD comes out.
> It hits close to home. I am a Middle School Art teacher in a public school. THough I am only in my 3rd year, I am already burning out. Every day at school I am thinking, this is not right, this is not the way people learn. Kids who don't want to be there, the regiment of time constraints, the assignments, the number of students in a room at one time demanding my attention. It doesn't work. Education, for me, is about relationships, talking to others, sharing, working together (or working alone). There are a few fine moments when I get the chance to sit and talk with a student about what they are working on. I love those moments when a student is finding his/her personal solution to a artistic problem. Each of these solutions are unique and I learn a little something from each of them.
> But what is a teacher supposed to do? How do you get a job in a school that only has 5 - 10 staff members? Besides reading the books, which I have done, does anyone have any idea on how to get a job in this very small job market?
> Thanks. William
> William Van Horn


I have no idea if this is possible, but consider it brainstorming and
maybe some idea that is possible will spring from it.

I am unaware of any strict standards for art classes, much less any
external interference with someone who tried to do something
innovative. Would it be possible for you to have a conversation like
this with the kids:

"Ok, I can''t help the fact that you are being forced to be here by
the state. While you are in my classroom, you have to do art. BUT, I
want you to do the art that you are interested in, whatever that is.
For the next two weeks I'm going to introduce a
technique/subject/activity per day. While I'm doing that, I want you
to be thinking about which of these interests you most. Starting the
day after that, you'll be working on whatever you choose. I can't
give you the freedom to leave, to goof off, or whatever, but I can
give you the freedom to do whatever art you are most interested in."

If someone wants to spend the whole year drawing comic strips, let
them. That's as likely to result in a career as anything, which is I
guess what school thinks its doing. I mean, hey, it's art. There are
a whole lot of things that people could be doing, and if someone
objects, they will have to prove that what the kid is doing isn't art,

So if you had a couple of kids in the back doing claymation, someone
drawing manga, a person learning about Photoshop filters, some people
drawing still lifes, a couple of people painting, etc, would it freak
the district out?

I know this sounds pretty radical, trying to do something so far
outside the box in a public school (I assume you're in a public
school), but there is precedent for it to work, and the key is that
the bureaucrats don't really understand art and don't have a notion of
how they need to control it to make it produce the right outcomes.
This actually worked for middle school shop classes. I lived next
door to Harvey Dean, who started Pitsco. He was a bit of a troubled
teen and a shop teacher got him interested in doing cool things in
shop class, and it made a big difference in his life. He started a
business that was basically based on this idea: "make shop class
something that kids want to come to". His first thing, iirc, was
CO2-powered dragsters, where you carved a balsa blank however you
wanted and put a CO2 cartridge in the back and raced them against
others in your class.

Kids really got into this, and eventually he was producing electronic
timing gates and wind tunnels. You can go to
and see what they are doing now. But my point is that when the state
isn't forcing a curriculum on you, it is possible to do things that
kids really like. It is of course not the same as being at a Sudbury
School, but you might be able to make your corner of the world
significantly more choice/interest-based.

Received on Sun Mar 25 2007 - 09:30:55 EST

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