Tuesday, August 26, 2008

a new adventure from ChIL

Hey there y'all -

Well. Here's some news. In just about a week, yours truly will be beginning something i never thought i would - my undergraduate degree.
I'm taking a hiatus from full-time arts-making and i'm going to learn about child development in an Early Childhood Education program. I want to be a teacher, and to do that i have to go to Teacher's College. To get into Teacher's College, however, i need to have an undergraduate degree. Never mind that i've been working with kids for longer than i haven't been working with kids, and i've been working in schools for the past 7 years. I need the piece of paper, and that requires an undergrad, which will require the next 4 years of my life. And then teacher's college, which will take at least another year.
However, after i've paid all that time to various institutions i will be able to do what i feel is important for me to do - have a Grade 2 class of kids of my own.

This came out of something i did with my amazing friend Jen Bulthuis, and about 14 years of working with kids and thinking about it. Jen is a toymaker, and she asked me to help her launch her new puzzle/puppets with a workshop for kids at a local kids shop. Well - I had about 20 kids under 5 all working together and having fun, the parents all asking where i taught - and in the middle of everything i asked myself 'why am i fighting this?' For years i have been working with kids and feeling pretty good about it, why not try to dive into it in more concentrated way?

I began looking into it, and all the Education Faculties said that they needed me to have an undergrad before accepting me. So i started looking around at the possibilities of an undergrad...at the same time as doing a six month residency at Islington Junior Middle School. The time I spent there with the students and teachers confirmed for me that teaching was something that i was feeling more and more called to do. Especially after spending time with the wonderful Grade 1s and 2s. So, i did even more research and finally decided on Ryerson here in Toronto and their Early Childhood Education program. That'll give me an even more solid base in child development than i already have, and then off to whatever teacher's college i can get into, maybe OISE at U of T. FIVE YEARS!!! Five years of school is what i'm looking at. It's a lot, and a big shift.

So, less art projects will be filling up my days. However, i won't be able to stop completely, so stay tuned if you like, and more will be coming. I've started another blog too, about ecological and sustainable living...you can check that one out too. It's called Artists of Unwaste at artistsofunwaste.blogspot.com.

Take care, keep checking in. I'll be seeing you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

sage seeds, education... from AofU

I collected 7 seeds from the golden sage in the herb garden just now. Shook them off into my hand, like magic. Seven round brown seeds, complicated creatures tucked inside them. Like little worlds.

Got excited today about education...Elyse my dear friend, philosopher artist and Waldorf teacher extraordinaire sent me a letter she wrote to Barak Obama about intuition and education, nature and the role of teachers. I am excited, although feeling a little leery of the EDUCATION SYSTEM. How will i navigate it, with it's checks and balances and bureaucracies, tests and exams and boxes and numbers? As i enter into dedicating my life to working with kids in a way that hopefully helps them become whole people with deep relationships with their worlds, their ecologies, themselves and others, how will i work inside it? I might be asking myself these questions for a long time.

Elyse's letter, and a chunk from John Gardner's 'The Secret of Peace and the Environmental Crisis', published in 1971, got me thinking along these lines. It is still so so relevant, which is unsettling. Here's a quote i liked.

"It seems to me that when teachers can settle down quietly to the real business of education, which is to awaken, empower and improve human beings, they will be glad to do so. When children are so taught, they will respond. When external goals and pressures are removed, teachers and students will begin to listen to what life says to the heart and to the conscience. And this concern will bring to pass what we need more than anything if we are to stop the ravaging of the earth."

Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

well howdy! from ChIL

Hello the peoples. Hope yer all dandy.

Me, i'm fine. I have been very busy making crazy art, first with about 530 elementary and middle school students, and i just finished a bonkers re-enactment of a 1920's Jewish Children's Work Commune. 28 kids dressed up and pretended to be living collectively in Communist Russia, shortly after the Revolution. It's been intense, but swell.

And so the world turns. Been working with kids so long, i've decided to make it official. I'm thinking of becoming a public school teacher. So, got accepted into Ryerson University's Early Childhood Education programme here in Toronto, set to start in the fall, on my way to Teacher's College and that little piece of paper that folks seem to think is so important. I'll be working with Jumblies and MABELLEarts for the rest of the summer.

The Jumblies project is Phase 2 of that re-enactment project i mentioned above - a movement/installation piece called Di Velt Ven Vern Yinger (The World will Grow Younger) detailing the history of the jewish secular communist summer community Camp Naivelt in Brampton. The MABELLEarts project will be Lantern Garden, the outdoor art garden we started last year. And then i'll be off to studentsville. For the rest of my life!

Maybe. Or maybe i'll discover something else in my scholastic adventures, and go off in an entirely different direction. Anyways, the Lab will be quieter than usual i think, with less beakers bubbling and more internal experimentation happening. I think that THE INFLAMMABLES will have more work to do, and i'm sure other weird stuff will be popping up. I'm looking forward to a change, tho.

In other news, permaculture is very good, i am trying to grow a good supply of tea for us this winter in my birthday herb garden, and the most fun that i'm having these days is composting. Remember to be good to yourselves and the earth, drink a lot of water from faucets and hoses, and become talented artists of unwaste.

Talk to you all soon - noah

Photo of Mimico Creek puppet by Katherine Fleitas
Photo of 12th Jewish Children's Commune by Michaela Otto
Photo of water found on the internet