Tag Archives: Education

Art, vulnerability + purple flying cows

12

We’re having an art exhibit
at our school.

We display student art
all the time,
in classrooms
and in hallways,
but this show
is different.

The art in this exhibit
was made by adults.
Parents and staff.

DP printed three photos from Beijing.
Beautiful blurry-on-purpose photos
against the clay-red backdrop
of the Forbidden City.

I chose two shots
from a perfect Paris afternoon.
Seated outdoors at a Rue Cler cafe,
we saw the clouds roll in.
Waiters scurried to beat the rain.
Rolled down transparent plastic sheets
to protect the cafe-clan.
Pedestrians drifted by
in a rain-distorted
dream world.
Muted by droplets
and ripples of plastic.

Friday after school
our library
changed its bookish stripes.
The book worm spread
fragile
iridescent wings,
became an art gallery.
There was sparking juice
and crackers
and the vibe was buzzy.
“I didn’t know she was a painter.
Her work is gorgeous.”

Some of the artists were
very
shy
about their art.
Embarrassed.
Dismissive.
“It’s no big deal.”

I want to say that
ART
is
a
very
big
deal.

The younger kids
at our school
think of themselves
as artists.
(Also
Pirates.
Explorers.
Opera singers.)

The younger they are
the more fearlessly
Warhol
Picasso
O’Keefe.

Years pass.
Some lose our way
back
to Neverland.
Narnia.
Wonderland.
We relinquish our place
in those dreams of
imaginary gardens,
labyrinths and castles
floating on clouds.
We forget the names of fierce dragons
we fought as four-year-olds.
We grow too big for
art-dreams
of purple cows
flying through the air.

Years pass.
We become judgmental
about what makes good art.
We develop criteria
to discuss the ways
in which a piece
is flawed.

We grow fearful
that our own photos
and doodles
don’t meet those standards.

We quit.
Pack away our crayons
and paints
in faded shoe boxes
labelled
“Childish Things”.
Turn towards adult pursuits
that pay the rent.

On Friday afternoon
adults at our school
sent their inner critics
to detention
and let their artists out
to play.

Vulnerable,
we were,
with our purple flying cows
exposed
for all the school to see.

Shy
and also
happy
like little kids.

Isn’t this how school
should be…
where the
adults
also
take risks
and play
and grow?

How can I feel good about myself?: COETAIL 1.1

Preface:

Dear readers,
I have recently enrolled, through my new school, in a professional development course called COETAIL. The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy is designed to meet the professional development needs of exemplary International School educators including teachers and administrators. If you’d like to know more about COETAIL, here is a link to the website.

One of the components of the course is a weekly response to a post or article we have read and I must confess that the idea of starting a new blog for this purpose… of having yet one more password-protected place in the cloud… well, that makes my head explode. To prevent the head-explosion, I am going to use this space for my weekly posts.

If using technology in your profession is of special interest to you, dig in. I promise to keep it real. If this does not appeal to you, please skip it. I’ll understand.

Cheers,
Monna


In World Without Walls: Learning Well With Others, Will Richardson writes about an eleven year old community volunteer and blogger who was asked where she gets her great ideas.

“I ask my readers.” was her response.

I get that. I like that. I do that too.

Lat year, in my work as a Counselor in Bangkok, I became increasingly concerned about the self-esteem of the teenagers with whom I work… the girls in particular. Over a few weeks, in different words, several girls asked me the following question: “How can I feel better about myself?”

Do you know how hard that question is to answer?

During an episode of a reality television show called Finding Sarah, personal finance guru Suze Orman reveals to the Duchess of York that she (Suze) “has a crush on herself”. Sarah asks her how it is possible to feel such positive feelings about oneself. Suze, never one lost for words, is not able to answer the question in a way that satisfies Sarah – or me.

So how do we help teenage girls develop authentic self-esteem? Immediately, I thought of my own tribe of very wise women and men – with whom I am connected through Facebook. They range in age from 18 to 80 and they live, quite literally, all over the world.

I posted an update asking them for their advice and my tribe of wise ones rose to the occasion and helped me identify some of the obstacles to genuinely feeling good about oneself. This collaboration resulted in A Confidence Manifesto for Girls and a new TUMBLR blog called The Girls’ Guide to Happiness. (TUMBLR is a popular online space for girls; some of them call it their “thinspiration.”)

While neither the manifesto nor the blog offers easy solutions to the this emotional epidemic (I can assure you that easy-peasy-self-worth-fixes do not exist), TUMBLR has allowed me to share a message of care. Girls in my life and in blog-landia know that Counselors and teachers and parents all over the world understand that these are hard years; we care, we would like to listen and help, and we’d like to empower girls to develop crushes on themselves. True love and acceptance of self… the real deal.

So what would you say to a teenager who asked you how they can feel better about themselves. Please comment below… I am very interested!