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A Day at the Studio
This summer I am teaching a program at my studio which incorporates arts and academics. The students, ages six through twelve, experience a rich curriculum of social studies, science, language arts and math- all taught through experiential learning and the arts. This year we have already “visited” several European countries, tasted their foods, learned their dances, songs, folk tales, history and culture. This week, we are exploring space. The kids have created Martian gardens, watched storms brew on Jupiter and calculated their weight on the sun, moon and all the planets. The afternoons are all about art. Art history, crafts, cartooning, and this year, during the week of the “Super ‘60s”, they will learn about the art created in the wild and turbulent 1960’s.
Since the curriculum varies each week, class size waivers slightly but my classes average about eight students for each week long course. While it is a breeze to teach such intimate classes, I can’t help but marvel at the enthusiasm demonstrated by each child rushing in to the studio each morning eager to discover what new learning adventure lies ahead. I thank God for my summers in the studio. Even though I am putting in a full days work – and a hard one at that- the days with the kids do wonders to restore my spirit and inspire new levels of creative instruction. My days in public education are not as rich, not as fulfilling. They are, in fact sadly just the opposite- completely draining and exhuausting. During the regular school year I find myself too tired at the end of the day to want to do little more than collapse.
In my studio I am not strangled by state standards, moronic district mandates, inadequate resources and supplies or incompetent administration. I set my own level of excellence and I meet or exceed it. I have unspoken expectations for student achievement and they always meet or surpass it. My studio is not ideal in the respect that I have a span of grade levels to address all in the same class. But somehow it works. And it is working better than public education. The kids leave my program in the summer full of creative ideas, new learning experiences and enthusiasm- because they had FUN while learning. I see something in the children leaving my studio that I rarely see in kids walking out of public schools- smiles on their faces and animated conversations about their day. All schools should be like a day at the studio.