One of my favorite things about teaching is working with kids who haven’t had the chance to fall in love with art or explore their own creativity.
This summer was my third year teaching a children’s class titled “Cultural Art from Around the World” at Allied Arts.
I always seem to get fairly eclectic classes. I have had children with disabilities, a couple kids from the foster care system, children between the ages of 6 and 16 in the same class and over a 1/4 of my students don’t speak english at home. All of these traits make for some fun projects!
These students are all a perfect fit for the class because we get to focus on who they are and why the things that make individual kids different from ourselves are also beautiful.
We had some great conversations about what culture is as well as what it means to respect people who are different than us while encouraging people to talk about their religion and lifestyle.
We begin each day by defining culture. Culture is anything form the foods we eat to the sports we play and watch. It can be what we do on weekends with family and friends, the clothes we wear, foods we eat, the religions we practice and the world views that shape the way we make our decisions.
As the week goes on kids become more comfortable talking about their own families. Kids who had previously believed that they didn’t have a culture begin discuss their favorite holidays, where their ancestors came from, and what they do on the weekends.
The first day of the class we completed a project where everyone drew the same thing. The m
iddle days tend to be more open ended and play based. The first 4 days we discussed various cultures, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, India, South East Asia, Indigenous people in the Americas, African American history, and this current year we talked about the refugee crisis. Students in my class are encouraged to use languages other than English if they speak them or even have an interest. I have had students incorporate Vietnamese, Afrikaans, Dutch, Russian, Celtic, Navajo, Cheyenne, Sign Language, French, Portuguese and Spanish into their projects. We always end the class with a project or two that share our own cultures where each student is encouraged to incorporate their personal beliefs or even prayers.
My class is one of several children’s classes offered at Allied Arts each summer. There is always an art exhibition to showcase the children’s work. This years exhibition will be August 22-27th at Allied Arts: Gallery at The Park.
Teaching this class has been an adventure that I plan tocontinue on with. I amexcited to be designing and hope to teach an adult version of the class as well.