Inspired by Caines Arcarde and the Cardboard Challenge I started the event at our school and it has been one of the most cherished school-wide events of project-based learning that we do. The Global Cardboard Challenge is a worldwide celebration of child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it. In the fall every year, kids are challenged to create and build using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. Each year LVCP students participate through a number of classes across subject areas to make their cardboard creations and showcase them for the entire school to play and experience. I've created curriculum to have my Art 1 students create their projects and here is a look at some of the last few years of our challenges...
Check out the video about the installation I created with the LVCP community...
Flam the festival-slam in contemporary arts and learning that I co-produced my amazing students, created: Utopian School, a one day REDESIGN of what a school can be, ney...should be...where students are teachers, nap pods are in, and boredom is OUT. The Flam Team looked at what happens when you survey an entire school including the faculty and staff asking them what they’d create in a Utopian dream school and the results were AMAZING...
Take a look at our site and the video I created of our amazing day of learning co-created by our community! Visionaries wanted. Wand making class(es) included.
How can I be more kind to myself and others? This is the question and intention I set for the year 2015. So as it approaches its closing, I thought it would be fitting to end it with a socially engaged art project. Will you join me? How can you participate? There are a few ways...1-Send me ideas RIGHT NOW or anytime throughout the month of DECEMBER on both: How to be kind to myself and ways in which I can be kind to others. 2-Follow my progress, as I document it about the acts of kindness I perform throughout the month of December (ideas that I will pick at random from those submitted to me by my students, friends and the public), and/or 3-Take this challenge for yourself, and perform some, and or all of the acts of kindness you'd like. So far, I haven't peeked at any of the ideas I've received, and I'm getting really excited to read the first one on December first!
,I have two “coming out stories”... a personal one and a professional one. It’s the professional coming out story that I want to share with you today of how I became and am continuing to grow as an “out” educator which has been one of the most significant roles that I have been able to play in being an advocate, support and safe space provider for LGBTQI youth. I wasn’t always “out” as a teacher to students and when I first looked for jobs as a teacher in Massachusetts, I would often wait until I was hired before sharing my sexuality with my colleagues. During grad school I took a “Human Development” class and as a project we were asked to document our own growth artistically during a period in our lives. I chose to create a scrapbook style book called “On Becoming Gay” that looked at the first crushes I had on girls as a child. It was an eye opener for my peers who hadn’t thought that their students might be going through these same issues as young as I was in elementary school. I realized then that sharing a personal experience made it very real and accessible for these teachers and I was able to have a really positive effect. A year later, still professionally in the closet, I was teaching in an aftercare program in a small community where I was very close to my students and many of their families. One day after work, my girlfriend and I went to dinner at I saw one of my students in the distance walking toward us. I immediately dropped holding my girlfriend’s hand but felt a huge pang of sorrow and guilt as I said hello and introduced her. And although she understood, I knew at that moment it wasn’t something I was willing to ever do again. From then on, I began to slowly become the “out loud and proud” lady you see before you today. First I began by telling my students at the end of every year. A few year’s ago, I realized this was just another missed opportunity. I was waiting to be “accepted” as a teacher before being known and being of use, and of help to my students during the year they had me...that’s when I started to out myself on the FIRST days of class. The rest is history.. in the making. In every school from Boston to NY to the Bay Area, where I’m now thrilled to be, I have worked to not only educate my administration, but also empower my colleagues on how they can provide safe spaces for our youth.
At times it’s a challenge to strike a balance that inspires others to be advocates and not just be seen as the advocate because I am gay personally. But that’s ok. I’m happy to be the one to remind us that we all have the responsibility to make our classes and our schools safe spaces to learn. And now I’m truly proud to be a part of this country’s movement that allows me to stand here with all of you as an example of us coming together to celebrate that we can and are creating and upholding that our land is a place where we are free to love and marry those we love and to create the world we all want to live in.
It sounds so, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we educators, pundits, theorists, activists, writers, thinkers, bloggers, speakers etc. do, at times, use our area-of-interest jargon with such wild abandon it takes someone outside our circle to give us a little head tilting, “what did you just say?” to snap us out of that first-class ticket to elite-sounding pretentious-land. (Which is exactly what a friend of mine, just recently did for me). But here, I want to take some time to explain that, as part of the title for my blog site, my wish is just the opposite: I choose the word “praxis” with a Freirian intent. Paulo Freire calls upon the educator and the learner to see praxis as a process of continued dialogue and critical reflection toward creating change for the better. Rather than a top-down approach, a together alongside make-for-the-better way of critically evaluating and taking action on the systems we inhabit, and for Freire and for myself, looking purposefully at the system of education as a starting point.
As an artist-teacher and artographer (formerly known as an arts educator), I have come to understand that when my practices as artist, teacher, learner, researcher, writer, spiritualist, mother, activist, etc. interweave together, I am the most realized, the most complete, and best whole “teacher” I can be. This may sound obvious, but in our culture, and in the way we train teachers in the United States, this isn’t always the focus, or even acknowledged. My first degree in art education (a Masters in Art Education) prepared me for understanding wonderful approaches to teaching, but there was little to no emphasis on incorporating my own practice as an artist into my classroom. It was a program primarily for practicing art teachers, many of whom had been teaching already for years in the classroom, and what I found to be true for the majority of arts educators on our MEd program was that they had once practiced their art forms either in art school or outside before becoming full time teachers, but once they had started to teach art, they weren’t still creating work of their own. There were a few exceptions, but often these were the younger teachers without families, or those teachers who were not working full time. I can think of one colleague, who managed to keep working on his illustrations and painting while teaching and doing our program. (They used him for our MEd program application brochure!). This separation of artist and art educator seemed natural to most people, because it would often be said, “who has the time?” But for me, I was just getting started and coming into my own sense of being as an artist in my adulthood. I wasn’t about to give up on my own making, so I thought I would have to just figure out a way to make on my own time. And so, for the first eight years of teaching that’s what I tried to do: (what seemed) the impossible. Be an art teacher while simultaneously practice art during my non-teaching hours (and, while I was at it, get married and start a family). Whew. Overachievers Anonymous anyone? Where is my brochure cover? (Ok, well, yes, actually I guess you can say I did get that when I was featured for starting a contemporary art salon in a magazine alongside one of my local hero: singing legend Pete Seeger in an article called “Beacon’s 10 to watch out for”…). But I’m digressing.
However, it wasn’t until I did a second degree in the UK (Artist-Teacher MA): one that’s focus was all about the arts educator as artist, that I was finally given this license (and shown how with examples) to share my work as an artist with my students. Wha? Gasp. Let your students know who you ARE? Let them SEE you? As a real person? As, gulp, get this--an artist, with struggles just like them! Yes, that’s right. Eureeka! And now, that has become part of my praxis. A process of sharing and connecting the work I do as an artist with my students. Sometimes I collaborate with them on works of art. Other times, I share my works with them for feedback, or incorporate my projects into the work we are doing for the year. My work as an artist has blurred and crossed the boundaries of the worlds I inhabit, and has made me and these worlds richer and more interesting places to spend my time.
Here’s a for instance that’s current. My wife and I have always had a pipe dream of traveling with our daughter in a few years when she’s around 8 or 9 for half a year or more to see all the national parks. We have this fantasy of being in a VW bus (or the like) and the crazy idea that I added to this was that since I teach art and my wife teaches yoga, we would make our bus a “learning exchange vehicle” of some sort. The idea would be that wherever we go, and whomever we meet, if they have something they could teach our daughter (since we’d be homeschooling her on the way), we would, in turn, give them an art or yoga class in exchange. That way it would add to our daughter’s learning from different people who know different things. So this summer, when my student production team and I decided that our Flam conference theme for next spring is going to be about creating Utopian learning spaces I thought, well, why don’t I look into getting this VW bus right now and make it part of a year long project that gets documented at the conference next spring? The idea would be that this year while at school, my contemporary art class and I research it, find ways to fund it, do small trips with it along the year, and showcase it at the Flam conference. Then, next summer, the idea is, my family and I will take it on the road to try it out for a slightly earlier version of our original idea. My daughter will be 6 then, and who knows how we’ll manage to get time off with Carrie’s new full time job, but it seems like an amazing adventure worth pursuing.
The first month of contemporary art class we made a prototype for our “VW type-bus” out of cardboard so we could launch our project at the cardboard challenge, a global event of cardboard creating that our school takes part in each October. Our Free Range Learning Exchange project has officially begun!
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." - Arundhati Roy
I met one of my creative heroins a few years ago in upstate NY at the Omega Institute. I took a creative writing workshop with SARK and before meeting me, she meditated on my name (and all the attendees) before making us each our own brightly colored "titled" name cards. When I got to the check in table, mine read: "Visionary Stacey". I've been enjoying using my SARK-given name whenever I can ever since. It seemed fitting that I begin this blog with a title that nods to the practice, embodiment and synthesis of the ideals of being a Visionary, because in a very real way, this has become my life's work, my art, and pedagogical practice. This summer, I'm committing myself to some research and writing with the hopes of publishing an article, possibly more. I'm beginning this blog as a way of working through some of the ideas I'm going to be working with, but also as a way to help me write, write, write. So, more to come, stay tuned, and please, comment, when you are so moved to help encourage me along the way!
I met one of my creative heroins, SARK, a few years ago at the Omega Institute. I took a creative writing workshop from her and before meeting me, she meditated on my name (and all the attendees) before making us each our own brightly colored "titled" name cards. When I got to the check in table, mine read: "Visionary Stacey". I've been enjoying using my SARK-given name whenever I can ever since. I've found that in a very real way it encapsulates my life's work, my art, and pedagogical practice.