Posts Tagged 'teaching'



Time to Ring in the New School Year

Last week, Go van Gogh staff and volunteers celebrated the upcoming new school year at our annual welcome back party. Generously hosted by Go van Gogh volunteer Deborah Harvey, the lively group gathered at her home for coffee, snacks, mingling and a very special private art tour. Growing up, the love of art was infectious in Deborah’s family and collecting became a beloved family tradition. Today, she has an impressive collection of exquisite original works. Deborah guided us through her home with charisma and charm relating fun facts and anecdotes about each piece. Check out pictures from the festive event in the slideshow below.

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I still can’t believe that summer is already coming to an end. I guess it’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun! But before we all get swept up into fall, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate some of the successes of this busy, yet fun, summer.

While school was out for the summer, Go van Gogh staff and volunteers traveled all over the city, bringing interactive art programs to your neighborhood libraries, YMCAs, and Boys & Girls Clubs. Through the Go van Gogh Summer Library Program we taught at over fifty venues with a staggering total of 1,393 participants. Although library programs are recommended for ages five-twelve, anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Reflecting back, many volunteers have expressed how much they enjoyed interacting with entire families that included children as well as parents. Receiving positive feedback from parents, volunteers, and librarians has been a highlight of this year’s program. I have provided just a couple of these such comments below.

May Shen, Children’s Librarian at Arcadia Park Branch Librar, wrote:

The children were engaged in the museum artwork, made good observations, and had a lot of fun with their own creations.  I was thrilled to see how involved the parents were as well!”

Karen Wyll, a Go van Gogh volunteer shared:

The parents were very complimentary and so pleased to be there.  Both programs were a very positive experience for everyone, I think.”

It’s been a wonderful summer, and I look forward to a fantastic new school year.

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Friday Photos: Summer Seminar 2012

Last Friday marked the end of Summer Seminar 2012: Teaching for Creativity, a week-long, immersive workshop for teachers of all grades and subjects to explore ways to foster creative thinking skills in their students. As a relatively fresh DMA employee, this Summer Seminar was my first. I was joined by eight educators from near and far (from Texas to Nebraska to Monterrey, Mexico!). Participants spent the week with the Museum’s resident creativity expert, Dr. Magdalena Grohman, engaging in group and independent creativity exercises, exploring creativity through art in the galleries, discussing current scholarship on creativity, and developing lesson plans to be tested in their classrooms next school year.

Thank you to this year’s participants for your insight, enthusiasm, and open-minds. Check out some of the photos from our idea-filled week.

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Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Staff Spotlight: Gail Davitt

Tomorrow will be an emotional day for Education Staff at the DMA. Our Chair of Learning Initiatives and Director of Education, Gail Davitt, is retiring after twenty-six years of service to the Museum. Throughout her tenure serving in a variety of staff roles, her main focus has never changed: creating connections between art and people. We sat down for a discussion about her amazing work with us and her plans for the future.

What originally brought you to the DMA?

In 1986, as a PhD student in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, I participated in several independent study courses, some of which involved working with curatorial and exhibitions staff at the DMA.  Part of my coursework included a proposal for an exhibition titled “The Real Self,” focusing on contemporary artists like Cindy Sherman and Jonathan Borofsky. As part of another course, I had also interviewed Anne Bromberg, then Director of Education, who opened my eyes to the possibility of a museum education career—something I had never known existed. Although my exhibition never came to fruition, that fall I applied and was selected for a graduate education internship with Anne. The following year, in the summer of 1987, I was hired in a full time position, working initially with teachers and docents.

Gail Davitt in the American Galleries during her internship in 1986

How has your time at the DMA shaped who you are as an art educator?

Before I came to the DMA I knew very little about the type of education that can occur in museums. I had taught English and studied Art History, but didn’t feel that traditional teaching was my calling. Once I began my position with the Museum, I gained many colleagues and mentors who encouraged me to spend time with art museum education colleagues in New York and Minneapolis. Soon after, I became involved with the National Art Education Association and have been active ever since.

In addition to these colleagues, I was also given the opportunity to work with colleagues involved in evaluation and visitor studies, like Beverly Serrell and Randi Korn. Through this work, I have learned the value of setting goals and outcomes and the importance of measurement to informal learning.

There have also been times when I was on my own, able to try out and experiment with new ideas, something that has proven valuable as well. The opportunity to learn and share with colleagues and then apply what I have learned at the DMA has truly provided me with a rich environment for my own understanding of art museum education, which I hope has allowed me to encourage meaningful visitor experiences with art.

What will you miss most about the DMA?

I truly will miss all the people. I have formed such close relationships with fellow staff that it will be difficult to no longer see everyone on a daily basis.

The other big thing I will miss is hard to put into words. What I love about my job is the chance to constantly dig in deep with a project, to really research and wrestle and grapple to figure out the solutions and create something meaningful. There is always an opportunity for this sort of problem-solving process at the Museum, and I will miss being involved with those opportunities. Now my challenge will be trying to find them in other areas of my life.

Gail with DMA curators Sue Canterbury, Heather MacDonald, Roslyn Walker and Kevin Tucker.

What are you most looking forward to come June 2 and beyond?

One main thing I am looking forward to is Sunday evenings without a knot in my stomach—that sort of anxiety that comes when you know you haven’t accomplished the work you were hoping to get a head start on over the weekend.

I am also really looking forward to devoting more time to my family and friends. While I have loved my job, it has taken so much attention that my other relationships have at times come second. I also love to cook and am looking forward to nurturing my relationships through food by cooking for friends. Travel is also high on my list and now I will be able to spend more time really researching the places I’d like to visit. Currently, I am planning for a long trip to Brussels.

What is one fun fact that people don’t know about you?

I played intramural volleyball in college and was pretty good. It also provided a convenient way for me to travel from Bucknell to Penn State to visit my then boyfriend (now husband), Jim.

Gail and Jim at a dinner celebrating the DMA’s centennial in 2003.

Gail has been an inspiration to all of us in the Education Division. We will greatly miss seeing her each day, but look forward to finding new ways to continue our work with her in the future.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Community Connection: Ekphrastic Poetry

In honor of National Poetry Month, April’s Community Connection is Kolby Kerr.  Kolby is an English teacher at New Tech High at Coppell who incorporates a DMA visit into his creative writing curriculum.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I teach AP English IV, regular English IV, and creative writing at New Tech High. It’s a unique school and school environment.  This is my fourth year teaching, and I teach all seniors.  I graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in English and got a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from Seattle Pacific University.  I am interested in literature and creative writing and the intersection aesthetics and academics.

What drew you to New Tech High?

We are a public choice high school; students come here based on a lottery or a first-come, first-serve sign-up within Coppell ISD. We have a one-to-one technology pairing, so students have access to their own laptops and to the internet at all times.  Our curriculum is project-based; everything has to be invested in real-world, directly applicable projects.  Hopefully, that will increase students’ investment in their own intellectual curiosity.  They tell us what they need to know to complete their projects.  I have, more or less, autonomy to create my instruction around concepts and ways of life I’ve found helpful in engaging the world with the mind.

Tell us about your relationship with the DMA.

In my undergraduate degree program, a creative writing professor took us to The Art Institute.  He set us loose, told us to engage and interact with single work of art, and write an ekphrastic poem based on it.  I found the activity liberating and interesting; I don’t know much about art, but I really felt like I had an engagement with the artwork on a deeper level than I had experienced before.

When I knew I would teach creative writing, that was the first project I wanted to do.  I grew up going to the DMA with my grandmother, who was a big art-lover and always took us down there.  I came last year and this year with my students.  We started with an hour-long guided tour of highlights in the DMA collection, then I set them free.

How do you set up the assignment at the DMA?

It is fairly open-ended.  After the highlights tour, I suggest that students take an hour to narrow down four to five different works, take notes, snap a photo and journal.  Then, they spend a full hour with one piece, which forces their attention in one direction.  With constant distraction and consumer overload, writing forces you to produce something from yourself.  You can get at ekphrastic poetry from two angles – either read into the moment of the painting, which provides narrative or a character you see in painting, or take something from the painting and let it project into your own life and become a more lyrical expression.  Some poems are almost all image-driven, while some are story poems.  Either type of poem drives you back to the art and makes you want to see the art and compare the experience of the poem to the experience of the piece.

This partnership gives a sense of relevancy and authority to a field – creative writing – that sometimes feels too abstract.  Creative writing exists way off the beaten path and this assignment gives a kind of legitimacy to a culture that creative writing is not only hoping to sustain but helping to thrive and flourish into the 21st century.

How do you combine poetry and art in your assignments?

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Teaching for Creativity: One Continuous Line of Creativity

One goal for the Teaching for Creativity series is to present the voice of other educators who can share insights and approaches to teaching that nurture creative behavior.  Meet Lorraine Gachelin, Artistic Director at the Dallas International School and participant during the DMA’s 2011 Summer Seminar.  Lorraine shares with us a drawing exercise that supports the development of risk-taking, freedom, and creative flow in her middle and high school students.

I have the pleasure of working with Middle and High School students.  They display a great deal of energy and enthusiasm when working on creative projects and studying art history.  Curious, analytical, and structured, they follow instructions and stay within their guidelines.  The challenge arises when I ask them to spend time sketching in their journals.  “What should I draw? How large or small?  Which tool must I use?”  “A free drawing”, I respond, “What is on your mind today?  What would you like to express?”

My biggest thrill as an artist and teacher is to offer my students the opportunity to be risk-takers in their art.  I want them to open up their minds, take a pen to paper, and doodle with a cause.  Go with the subconscious flow!  Let the pen move around with one continuous line until an image appears.  No planning, no analysis, no critical thinking.  Just pure creative freedom and finally, allow an image to spring forth.

One continuous line drawing by teacher

Sounds strange?  Not really, it just requires an open mind and a little practice.  A ballpoint pen is a great tool because it can’t be erased and the pressure can be varied.  The paper can be any size – try to use the maximum space available.  Constraints are minimal but important:  no reference photos and the pen may not leave the paper as this drawing will be created with one continuous line.  The first few minutes of drawing should be very free.  Consider it a warm-up.  I don’t even look at my paper during this time.  Once the pen touches the paper, allow the line to move around as if it is listening to music.  After a minute, my eyes are on my paper and I watch the line continue to flow and build.  Shapes may begin to appear where the lines cross with textures implied.  Patterns and values slowly emerge forming an image in a very organic and natural state.

One continuous line drawing by student

A talented sixth-grade student was intrigued by this approach to drawing.  Without question, judgment or any preset expectations of what would result, he quietly sat at his desk and drew for 15 minutes.  A flower and butterfly appeared with much energy and grace, all too well symbolizing the metamorphosis that had just taken place in his artwork.  It’s all in the continuum of the flow.

Many thanks to Lorraine for contributing to this blog and for being such a wonderful collaborator in the pursuit of creativity!

What creative experiences are happening in your learning environment?  Share your ideas with us and spark the dialogue.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

2012 Summer Seminar for Teachers

2011 Summer Seminar Participants

Imagine yourself among a group of educators — spirited, inspiring, trusting, supportive, and innovative — all focused on creativity and the nurturing of students. Now imagine this group immersed in the creative environment and resources of the Dallas Museum of Art for one full week.  This is the Summer Seminar experience for teachers at the DMA, and we’ll be hosting the 2012 Seminar June 11-15.  We invite you to join us!

Teaching for Creativity reached beyond my expectations by exploring how to consider attitudes, ideas, and associations I may have discarded or not considered before this class.  – 2011 participant

Designed for teachers of all grade levels and subjects, Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity explores education and creativity through experiences in the DMA’s galleries and Center for Creative Connections. The course references creativity from a variety of perspectives, and participants engage in readings about creativity from various authors, including Robert Sternberg, Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Through conversations and workshops centered on creative attitudes and thinking, the Seminar supports teaching skills and approaches that foster imagination, curiosity, an open mind, and a natural drive for creating in students. UT Dallas professor Magdalena Grohman and DMA staff lead workshops and gallery experiences.  Participants reflect on and further develop their own creativity, as well as focus on how to teach for creativity.

I will use the tools in order to push myself further with my projects, rather than staying in [a] comfort zone.  – 2011 participant

This definitely helped me tap into more creative thinking. The exercises and activities were very helpful.  – 2011 participant

2011 Summer Seminar gallery experience

Throughout the Seminar, the DMA galleries serve as a kind of laboratory space, in which we consider the creative process and relate creative thinking techniques to specific works of art. In-depth experiences with art cultivate our abilities to observe, envision, express, explore, engage, and understand  in the arts and other disciplines. Through these experiences, we may become more persistent, flexible thinkers, better problem explorers and problem solvers—overall, more creative beings.

Unlike most professional development, the focus is not on ‘making a better teacher’ but on providing good teachers with better tools to bring out the best in their students.      – 2011 participant

The one-week Summer Seminar experience serves as a catalyst for an extended relationship between participating educators and the DMA as we continue the dialogue about education and creativity throughout the academic year.  This blog is one venue for the continued dialogue — view posts from a series titled Teaching for Creativity to learn more and hear about the creative journeys of several educators in the classroom.  The blog post this Thursday will feature 2011 Summer Seminar participant, Lorraine Gachelin.

Registration for the 2012 Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity is currently open. For more information, please contact Andrea Severin at aseverin@DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Me & My World: Testing in the Galleries

As Hannah and I continue our revisions of the Me & My World docent tour guide and Go van Gogh program, I wanted to share a few works of art that I was able to test out on two groups of first-graders during thier Me & My World tour.

Below you will see three of the five works of art that I chose to look at with the students. I have included the clues, some of the questions that led the discussions, as well as other activities that I used.

Stop #1
Clues: We are looking for a painting that shows a little girl wearing a hat who is dressed in all white.

Dorothy, John Singer Sargent, 1900, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc.

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This little girl’s name is Dorothy. Let’s look at what Dorothy is wearing. Can you describe her clothes?

Do you have fancy or nice clothes? Where do you wear them?

Do you like dressing up? Why or why not?

Look at Dorothy’s face. Does she look happy or sad?

Why do you think she looks sad?

Stop #2
Clues: We are looking for a painting of another little girl who has very short hair and is wearing a blue and white dress.

Dutch Girl Laughing, Robert Henri, 1907, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

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We don’t know this little girl’s name. What should we call her?

Let’s describe her clothes.

Does she look like Dorothy? Why or why not?

Does she look happy or sad?

Why do you think she looks happy?

Compare/contrast both portraits: Let’s imagine that these girls could talk to us. What would they say? What would they say to each other? What would they say to these other people (the other portraits in the gallery)?
Favorite clothing: Can you tell me what is your favorite thing to wear? Can you describe it (color, print, etc.)? Where do you like to wear it?
Emotions: Let’s looks at some of the other people’s faces in this gallery. Do they look happy? Sad? Angry? Scared? Bored? Sleepy? Why do you think so?

Stop #3
Clues: We are looking for a whole room that is full of shelves holding lots of things that people use to eat dinner.

Examples of objects in the Decorative Arts Study gallery. Left: “Century” shape dinner plate with “Sunglow” pattern decoration, Eva Zeisel, Hall China Company,1956, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David t. Owsley Right: “Tricorne” shape luncheon plate with “Mandarin” decoration, Donald Schreckengost, Salem China Company,1933, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kenn Darity and Ed Murchison.

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Can you find something in this room that…

You can eat soup out of?

What about a piece of cake?

What about hot chocolate?

OR

I spy something that is… (red, blue, striped, polka dot, etc.)

I am going to read you a silly poem about someone who is eating dinner:

Mashed Potatoes on the Ceiling
by Kenn Nesbitt

Mashed potatoes on the ceiling.
Green beans on the floor.
Stewed tomatoes in the corner.
Squash upon the door.

Pickled peppers in my pocket.
Spinach up my sleeves.
Mushrooms in my underpants with
leeks and lettuce leaves.

Okra, onions, artichokes,
asparagus and beets;
buried neatly underneath the
cushions of our seats.

All the rest I’ve hidden in my socks
and down my shirt.
I’m done with all my vegetables.
I’m ready for dessert! 

Let’s pretend that we are making a huge dinner for everyone in the Museum to eat tonight. Let’s go around the circle and tell everyone what kind of food you would bring to share. Now, let’s choose a dish from these shelves to serve it in.

Stop #4
Clues: We are looking for an object that is small, brown and white, and looks like a face.

Mouth mask depicting the head of a bird, Leti Island, Indonesia, 19th century, Dallas Musuem of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

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What kind of animal does this look like?

Can you find its beak? Its feathers?

If you could touch this, do you think it would be soft? Hard? Rough? Smooth?

What do you think this is made of?

The person who used this would put it in his mouth and pretend that he was a bird. Have you ever worn a costume?

Can I have a volunteer come up and show us how they would move if they were wearing this bird mask?

What are some other animals that you like to pretend to be? Can you show us how you’d move?

Overall, the students seemed very receptive to the works I chose to explore. Both groups were very talkative, and I was surprised at how comfortable and focused they were with the discussion topics that I brought up. They were very good at comparing and contrasting the two paintings of the young girls, and seemed to enjoy talking about them. The “Mashed Potatoes on the Ceiling” poem was a big hit, and so was the “dinner party” conversation. I soon realized that any time a first-grader is given the opportunity to share ANYTHING about themselves, they will. One of my favorite moments was watching those students move like an animal in front of the group. I am thankful that most first-graders aren’t shy!

Jessica Kennedy
McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Intern Project: Artworks for Me & My World

Last month, Jessica and I introduced you to Me & My World, a program specifically designed for first grade students. There are two versions of the program, one created for tours in the museum and another developed for classroom visits. Although Jessica and I will be doing a lot of collaborating, she will be primarily focusing on the docent-led tour, while I will be working on the Go van Gogh classroom experience.
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Our first step in the Me & My World revision process was to select new works of art for each program. Go van Gogh is a sixty-minute program that is broken up into two equal parts of looking at works of art and then making works of art. With half an hour to look closely and discuss the art, there is just enough time to have quality experiences with four artworks. With thousands to choose from within the collection, picking just four is no easy task. When teaching in the classroom, we bring reproductions of artworks to be projected onto a screen; as a result, visibility can become an issue. For example, paintings that are really dark usually won’t project well, and sculptures with a lot of detail or incising can be washed out and difficult to see. Besides keeping all of these basic logistical challenges in mind, it was also really important to find works specifically ideal for engaging first-graders.

We started by seeking the advice of volunteers, docents, and education staff for their insights from past experiences. This resulted in a lot of great ideas, almost too many! To further narrow down our selections, we developed two main criteria to focus on: themes and teaching opportunities. In an effort to make the programs well-rounded with a variety of diverse topics, we categorized the artworks by themes, such as family or sports. These themes are meant to be easy for first-graders to relate to, so they can develop personal connections with the works. Then, by using the DISD curriculum for first grade, we created a general list of possible teaching opportunities that could be addressed through looking at art. Finally, we chose works that clearly matched some of those teaching goals and also fit into one of the themes.

With the thoughtful suggestions of our department, volunteers, and docents, as well as the criteria Jessica and I created, I was able to narrow down my search to seven final works of art to begin testing for Go van Gogh. I provided two examples below.

Apple Harvest, Camille Pissarro, 1888, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

Theme: Family/Teamwork

Teaching Moments

  • Look at brushstrokes/dots of paint
  • Count the people
  • Name the colors
  • Discuss the weather/seasons

Personal Connections

  • Teamwork – helping family or working with other students at school
  • Fruit/food
  • Outdoor activities

Wild Cattle of South Texas: Ancestors of the Longhorns, Tom Lea, 1945-1946, oil on canvas covered masonite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Life Magazine

Theme: Natural World/Texas

Teaching Moments

  • Discuss and count longhorns – native to Texas
  • Look at landscape – cactus, stream, plush green trees and grass
  • Talk about weather/seasons

Personal Connections

  • Texas
  • Animals
  • Outdoors

In preparation for testing these artworks with first-graders, I will need to develop guidelines for conversation and activities that incorporate various learning styles. If you have had any memorable experiences with activities or conversation starters related to these themes, please share them in the comments section below!

Hannah Burney
McDermott Education Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Help Wanted: Looking for a Few Good Interns

With all the amazing experiences you can have at the DMA, what could be better than learning about our work firsthand? Each September, DMA staff welcome a new class of McDermott Interns through the McDermott Internship Program. And thanks to the generous support of the Eugene McDermott Education Fund, we are even able to provide our fabulous interns with a stipend.

Although I may be a bit biased (I was a McDermott Intern last year), McDermott Interns truly are a vital part of the DMA. We couldn’t survive without them! Throughout their short nine-month stint at the Museum, they contribute to various projects, from exhibitions to tours to programming and beyond. We even make sure our interns get to experience other arts organizations around the Metroplex. It’s a smorgasbord of museum opportunities!

Two of the lucky interns from this year’s class are our very own Hannah and Jessica, who have blogged about some of there experiences with you here. I asked them a couple questions to get their perspective on being a McDermott Intern:

What has been your favorite part of the McDermott Internship so far?

Hannah: Definitely teaching. I love going into classrooms and interacting with the students; their energy, enthusiasm and curiosity is contagious. They are constantly reminding me why I am so passionate about art and teaching. I also really enjoy going to docent training lectures and discussions, because it gives me the opportunity to keep learning.

Hannah (center right) with local teachers during the Art and Fashion Teacher Workshop.

Jessica: My favorite part of being a McDermott Intern is being able to work with some of the friendliest and most dedicated people I have ever met. I have also really enjoyed learning about the DMA’s collection and fantastic exhibitions, and then passing on that exciting knowledge when giving tours.  It is so rewarding to know that you made someone’s trip to the Museum memorable!

In your opinion, what is one reason why someone should apply to be a McDermott Intern?

Hannah: One thing that is really unique about being a McDermott intern is that you get the chance to work really closely with one department, while also getting opportunities to collaborate and interact with the entire staff of the Museum. With guidance and support, you have many responsibilities within the department you are working for, and your days are filled with diverse tasks, activities and programs. No two days are the same!

Jessica: One word: EXPERIENCE! The staff at the DMA will ensure that you are given every opportunity to learn about the inner workings of so many different departments within the Museum. The DMA really values McDermott Interns as professional coworkers, not just as extra help. It is that kind of attitude that really makes being a McDermott Intern a wonderfully fulfilling experience.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring a museum career, check out our Museum Internships page, which includes more information and a link to the 2012-2013 McDermott Internship application form. We look forward to your submissions!

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Teaching for Creativity: Boundaries, Rearranging, Persistence, and Creativity

One goal for the Teaching for Creativity series is to present the voice of other educators who can share insights and approaches to teaching that nurture creative behavior.  Let me introduce you to Susan Stein, art teacher at Temple Emanu-El Preschool in Dallas, Texas and participant during the DMA’s 2011 Summer Seminar.  Susan shares with us a sculpture exercise that supports the development of persistence and innovation in her young students.

There are five different shaped pieces of wood in front of each child.

“Can we trade pieces?” No.

“Can I have more pieces?” No.

“Can I just use some of the pieces?” No, you need to use all five pieces.

What’s with all the “no’s”? Isn’t creativity about making your own rules, about not staying in the lines, about “yes”? As it turns out, some measure of boundaries actually promotes creativity through problem solving. When every option is available, we have too many choices, and this often causes us to go off our path. When there are some rules, as is mirrored in life, we feel we have someplace to begin, a structure to hang onto, and can more readily achieve our goals. Without rules you get chaos, with too many rules you get dictatorship. Guidance with flexibility is the key.

One of Susan's students works on a sculpture

The children arrange their pieces into sculptures without gluing anything together. A few children do their first sculpture in five seconds and announce that they are done. I nonchalantly knock their sculpture down and tell them to arrange a new sculpture in a different way. I don’t want them to get attached to their first idea. I look for each child to rearrange at least ten times. The more times they create arrangements, the more chances they take, and the more creative they get. They will eventually try placing big pieces on top of little ones, tilting pieces, and placing pieces to span a gap between two others. It is fascinating to observe!

Rearranging the same elements also lets you see the problem from different perspectives and in the process create new solutions. An example of this happens when you rearrange your Scrabble tiles and a word “magically” comes to you.

This process of rearranging again and again creates persistence. All innovative people cultivate persistence. You have to be willing to experiment with many ideas in order to find the ones that work best. Thomas Edison tried over three thousand filaments for his light bulb before he found even one that worked well.

After about fifteen minutes I announce that when they have an arrangement they are happy with, they can glue the pieces together. They are anxious to do so!

Many thanks to Susan for contributing to this blog and the dialogue about creativity.  You can contact Susan at Susan@Art-Experiences.com for more information about this exercise and workshops that she conducts.

Read about another preschool classroom in the August 2011 Teaching for Creativity post by Shadan Price.  What is happening in your learning environment?  Share your ideas and experiences with us.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships


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