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reenergizing the artist


Date: Sat Jul 21 2001 - 08:58:09 PDT

This summer I have taught a "literacy initiative" (education jargon!).
I am working with K-5 on writing and illustrating story books in
summer school for kids in my Brooklyn district.

I already posted about taking a full-time college teaching job in the
fall, after two years teaching middle school.

It was a great experience to go back to teaching kids after three
decades, but I have to say I was like a brand new teacher, and it is
a brand new world since the 60s in schools.

I wondered if I could teach at all!

So it has been an eye-opener this summer. I love what I am doing and
I can teach. Results, excited kids, and (mostly) happy classroom

It has proved to me that having adequate support (classroom teachers
mandated to be in the classroom and help with the art
activity;paraprofessionals also) an art class can be top notch. There
is time for every child to have the help needed so that frustration
doesn't lead to negative "I can't do art" behavior.

Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect this support all the time, but it
does make a difference, especially in classes of 30-plus children.
Schools don't always encourage parent volunteers, and sometimes that
is for good reasons. However, there might be a way to budget for PTA
artist parents to help out on a rotating basis. It would build their
resumes, give them a little extra money, and let the art teacher
teach instead of deal with behavior problems and respond to squeeky
wheels. It has truly been a dream of a teaching experience.

As for my art practice, I have had a project for four years
documenting the disappearing contadini (peasant farmers) of Italy as
they age and die. Next week I will leave for Italy. Part of the time
I am staying on a fruit farm in a off the tourist track crossroads
village in the Maremma. I'll hope to add to my photographs and
interviews with those inventive and philosophical people who have
been the underpinning of everything we admire and respect in Italian
culture -- and not only food!

If any of you have relatives in Italy who are farmers, post before
wednesday to

I am always on the lookout for a farm family which will welcome my

Enjoy your summer. These posts on reenergizing the artist have given
me pleasure just to read of the joy you find in your art practices.

Ciao (and I have access to my email in Italy, as well if you can't
post by Wednesday).


Jane in Brooklyn