Saturday, November 9, 2013

I is for Individuality

There comes a point in almost every lesson where I stand back and look at the group of people, whether young or old, who are quietly working on the same project, following the same set of instructions, using the same materials, and I marvel.

For many years, my teaching, learning and writing focused on the subjects of diversity and cultural competence. Our schools are filled with children and families from different countries, cultures, languages, economic and social backgrounds. It was my job to create lessons or materials for teachers and community members to help them see, understand and teach to individual needs and characteristics.

My work always focuses on how to make everyone successful ... It is easy for me now, with my small classes, but  when you have dozens or even hundreds of students to teach everyday, how can you see them as individuals? How can you appreciate what each person brings to the class, the community, the world?

For me, the answer is simple. Watch a group make art. It is through the creative process that we can begin to understand how each individual sees the world; better understand their skills and deficits as they manipulate materials, and learn more about them as we see how each expresses ideas in their own way.

When our group stands back to admire the work that each of us has created, I am amazed at the differences I see, the beauty that appears, and the fact that language, money and home are not part of the equation. Art is purely a product of its maker - a true reflection of the individual hands and mind that created it.

Instead of sharing my own art work today, these photos show just some of the wonderfully diverse students I am privileged to teach, and their vibrant art.