He came running up to me as he entered the playground. "Miss Jeanseau! Miss Jeanseau! I have something for you! " "What is it?", I asked.
"I have some extra crayons for you!" "Why are you giving me crayons?" He looks at me, questioning, "because you are the Art teacher!" Still bewildered by my question he reaches deep into the pocket of his coat. There is a lot in there. Out flies a wrapper from a snack bar from yesterday, another full bar for today. A jumble of treasures, he has a hard time finding what he has for me. Then he hands me two unwrapped beautiful crayons. Or half crayons. One Teal and one Ocre. Such a beautiful treasure. I hold the precious gift and look at it, my favorite colors. He does some more searching as he had more...then gives up and runs off to play. The entire moment passes in 2 minutes but fills my heart and soul for the day.
He is a little one I've known since preschool. Creativity coming from every fiber of his being. Creativity that makes it hard to stay on task, to finish a task or even start one. He is a swirl of smiles, big eyes, and a tornado of paper, and what ever great idea passes by. Projects in art class are rarely finished, but he also takes the lesson and expands it into places I would have never thought of. Last year most projects become creatures with blood and powerful weapons...weapons that weren't going to hurt but that were just really cool. This year the distraction seems even bigger. He is in his own world and rarely knows what the class is doing. His grin just keeps going though and he is happy in the conversations and tornado around his desk.
What do we do with such a student? Do we punish and control? Do we medicate? Teach him to organize and ignore the wind that is distracting him today? And if we do what do we loose? Do we loose the joy of two beautiful crayons? Do we loose the next great invention, creation or hope for things not yet discovered? As a teacher I want to build fences that keep a child safe, but they can also see through so that they can wonder what is beyond. I want to guide and suggest but allow for discovery that surprises us both. And as the child learns the boundaries and if they have the fire of creativity and curiosity nothing will stop them. Except maybe the chair that they have been told to sit in.
I am a teacher, a mom and an artist. I have my BA in Arts Education from U of Oregon and my MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State. I've been teaching for 25 plus years in a variety of settings. Teaching private lessons, in community centers and as a classroom teacher. This has given me a wide view of teaching art and what it does for our lives and our students. I have found creating to be a place that we can all meet, find our humanity and surrender to process.