SON OF A TEACHERMAN, PT. 1

05/20/2011 at 11:39 am 2 comments


The above picture is my office, or WAS my office, for two weeks in April. It was my first office in almost eight years, and easily the biggest office I’ve ever had. And that probably has something to do with the fact that my office wasn’t really an office. It was actually a classroom. MY classroom. At least for two weeks in April.

A year before I had this sweet office, my friend Stacey emailed me, asking if I’d be a judge for an art show. A kids’ art show, at her daughter’s elementary school. They had just finished a two-week session with a visiting artist, who taught them the ins and outs of book-making, and the school was looking to hand out some prizes to the best of the bunch.

As a rule, I almost always agree to do things that benefit kids. They are the future. They will eventually be running the planet that my old, wrinkled self lives in. Therefore, I do as much as I possibly can to ensure they grow up intelligent, caring, decent human beings. It’s the only way to guarantee that the planet old me lives in is the best planet possible.

While judging, Stacey suggested I be next year’s visiting art teacher. And considering what I just said about kids, the future, etc., you can probably understand why I agreed.

And so, this past April 2011, I spent two weeks teaching more than 400 elementary school children art. I developed three projects, all revolving around the concepts of using materials other people might throw away, and using art as an outlet for whatever is frustrating / upsetting / angering / pleasing you. I introduced them to the concept that mistakes can be beautiful, the importance of sketching, and that if you work hard enough, you could potentially grow up to be an adult man that draws unicorns and rainbows for a living. (If this is your first time reading me, or about me, know that the unicorn and rainbow thing is but one facet of what I do. I draw a lot of monsters, too.)

I also learned a great deal while I did all this teaching. An enormous amount, actually. And I’ll share that at the end of this series.

I’m breaking down my teaching experience to five parts. This is the first. The next three will focus on the individual projects I taught. And the final one will sum it all up. There will probably be some valuable lessons to walk away with after reading this, just like an Aesop’s fable. Mostly, though, I wanted to share with you all what turned out to be the greatest professional experience of my life so far. I’d never given much thought to being a teacher before  this happened. Now, I think about it all the time.

(Click here to read Pt.2.)

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