"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Getting to the core (sometimes it's a slow reveal...)

Exploring the motivation in being a writer, Jennifer Gresham asks, "How many of us choose to follow the crowds instead of obligating ourselves to the things that matter?"

Rainer Maria Rilke's advice was to "Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse......A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it."

Teaching calls to the very center of who I am. The actual experience of teaching, that is. However: teaching, as a profession, is crowded with requirements which seem superfluous, which serve more to draw us away from the 'things that matter' than to strengthen and build the toolkit.

Yet most of us comply. Is that 'following the crowd', or is it simply fulfilling the required but mundane duties of the work?

Kids tend to be most engaged in learning when the teacher functions more as a coach--and as an active learner. Sometimes that means putting aside whatever is currently being touted as the 'next best thing' when we know it conflicts with best practices. But where does that fall, along the spectrum of responsibility to the requirements of the job and to what's most important: responsibility to the creative nurturing of young minds?

I'm not entirely sure yet, but you can bet I'll be thinking about this one for awhile. What do you think?


"If you can create a classroom where kids feel safe to take creative risks, most likely the stress level is lower and they're more available to learn in every way."
--Jan Kirsch, Director of Creative Development: Inner City Arts

"We've got to stop thinking of the students as vessels that get their education poured into them, and instead start thinking of them as drivers of culture. Can we get them deployed as drivers of reform in the school, instead of beneficiaries of it?"
--J.B. Schramm, Founder: College Summit

Intrigued? Want to hear more? Check out the short video, here.


Transforming spaces

I ran across a great story over at BoingBoing about graffiti artists reclaiming decayed urban spaces with vibrant artwork.

Perhaps I should have saved this link for "Art in our schools" month?

Full story, here.


Resources: Learning to play guitar

Short and sweet post today: here's a great site for learning how to play guitar.
The information is presented in a well-organized sequence; youtube videos complement the written material. (Sometimes it's nice to learn from a video....you can rewind it as many times as necessary, to practice a tricky spot!)

Interested? Find out more, here.

Daily Life

While kids were setting up for Summer Jazz Band rehearsal this morning:

Sam* Yeah, so I was hanging out with these people who kept talking about books, and I said, "It's the middle of the summer! Come on already!"

Me Then what happened?

Sam Well, they said that books were better than movies, so I was like, "You guys need to get out more".

(The funny thing is, Sam is a bright kid who loves to read...)

*Sam is, of course, not the real name of this relaxed vacationer...)