Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I could take a lesson or two from my students

There are days that I know I will always remember for the events or moments that struck me as vital to my existence. Today is one of them. I had an "aah haa" moment. One of my students who is extremely talented, but normally can be very rude or difficult, came in to ask me a question at lunch. Remember, I teach 9th graders, Freshman, who most would rather chew their arm off than give up their lunch time (aka social opportunity). She came to ask me to look at her drawing of a face and give her some pointers because she just couldn't get it right. She is known to draw in the anime style where figures are very disproportional due to large heads and small bodies. She was trying to draw one realistically and was doing a nice job, but features were a bit too low on the face so she was frustrated. This request took me completely by surprise because not only was she asking for help, but she was doing it politely and seriously. This is a talented girl who doesn't always follow the rules. She is usually bored because she is so smart and intuitive, but she is rude, argumentative, and sarcastic. I like her! She drives me nuts at times with her stubborn opposition, but I see this spark of creativity in her that is unleashed and passionate. She is on her 2nd Visual Journal this year with her first being so fat that it won't close. Back to the story... I was floored that she would ask me for assistance in drawing. In comes the "aah haa"... She likes me.. she really likes me. I have her respect. How did that happen???? I admire her courage and spontaneity in her exploration of materials and fresh creation. She has an innate sense of style and design. She layers materials in a way that looks haphazard, but it works. I'd hate to ruin that. Sometimes I think I would've been less fearful of failure in my art if I hadn't listened to some of those snotty professors that insisted I do it the "right" way. I would have created with wild abandon! There are times I feel bound by rules and what's "good" art... So, this cocky Freshman girl taught me that I don't have to be in control all the time, sometimes it's best to let them play and not try to make them all do it my way. I am finding that I enjoy the everyday surprises that these kids offer. They do things differently sometimes... Those are the best times. It's when they whine that they "don't get it" or "what do I do now?" or "can't you just do it for me?" that I cringe. Not because it's annoying, but because it means they are trying to please me or are scared to try, or rather, fail. The joy of just doing is squashed by our school system's need to create good test takers, good book learners, good rule followers. Really what we need are rule breakers that take chances and try new things, not for the destructive properties, but for the fun of it! I learned that I need to just play and ask for help when needed, but always trust my gut. I hope no one breaks her spirit and makes her follow the "rules" of art because I have a feeling that she is going to make her own "rules".
Here are some of her journal entries:


Lisamariemlt said...

where were you when I was in high school----thumbs up for your ah ha moment

I totally agree---let them learn--it's not the product it's the process......right or wrong it the steps taken to get there and the adventure on the way
you are going to be a strong role model for those students if you keep giving them what they need--respect---motivation---and a listening ear

Holly Terra said...

love moments like that!
totally reminds you of why you wanted to teach in the first place :).

Gigi said...

That's a wonderful A-ha moment!

Not that I am that artistic myself, but when I'm scrapping, I tend to follow the rules to a "T". I often have to force myself to go out of the box. Maybe matching everything & having everything lined up straightly is not the way to go. After all, it's the out of the box scrappers that I admire the most!