Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Institute for Innovation

It has been nearly two weeks and I am still buzzing from the amazing 2-day workshop I attended at RAFT. Two full days of creativity and the wonderful ziggity zag that comes from playing in your "creative mind state."

It was a hands-on program with multiple instructors leading a variety of "experiences" to generate and harness creative energy. We brainstormed and scampered. We mastered Leonardo's bridge and the Nail Puzzle. We even talked our way through the various hues of a color. But most of all we spoke about the future and education and how we can make a difference.

We do not realize it, but hands on learning has lost its place in our education system. The days of auto shop, sewing and wood shop are long past and kids are stuck in lectures and textbooks to learn about all the wonders of the world. Through the Institute of Innovation, I was reminded that you learn what you love and most often you can't know if you love something until you have applied it... tried it on... taken it for a spin. Through creativity we can reach our kids on a personal level and spark their passion to learn.

The other participants of this workshop came from many backgrounds with varied experiences. Combined with the fantastic curriculum and the infectious enthusiasm of the instructors, I left with a greater understanding of how I want to affect others with my art. I have always known that through the process of artistic creation we can access the magical world of our imagination. For many however, imagination is an inaccessible oasis in the midst of turbulent schedules and overwhelming "to-do lists." Many people need a little help to enter this place of innovation and invention. I want to be the person that provides that help. The hostess that opens the door. I want to share the key with others so they can tap into their possibilities. And guess what? I get to.

This Fall, I will be teaching my summer art class as an enrichment program at St. Timothy's School. While I have been doing this for 4 years now, I have new clarity about my objectives. I have also applied for a Fellowship through the Institute of Innovation which would compliment my classes in the most incredible ways. Besides the increased access to programming and resources, the generous stipend would allow me to offer scholarships and subsidies to families on a tighter budget. There were a lot of amazing individuals interested in the opportunity. I will find out if I have been selected next week...(fingers and toes crossed.) Until then, I am busy putting together the curriculum and working through the logistics.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Loving camp in so many ways

If you have been reading my blog for a year or more than you know that I get crazy excited about teaching art at summer camp. I *LOVE* tapping into a child's creativity and allowing them to invent without inhibition. If you look back to my July entries from year's past you will see that art camp is the highlight of my summer.

This year I am teaching at St. Timothy's rather than Gen Israel where I have taught the last 3 years. The groups are about the same size but I have yet to "recycle" a class. I just love designing new projects and exercises that tickle the imagination and give a child a feeling of success.

The first week of camp was a hoot. I offered the kids a boatload of upcycled treasures from RAFT to use to make a small city. We had a city planning meeting each day before we got to the building and discussed scale, distribution of commercial versus residential real estate, infrastructure, mass transit, cooperative projects and even funding. Of course we used much more colorful terms like small, medium and big, houses versus stores, choo choo trains, building bucks and more.

I was absolutely blown away by the creativity and enthusiasm the kids showed. We worked on the project for 4 days - 2 hours a day, and I never heard "I'm done" or "I'm bored." They worked together, exchanged ideas and the older kids even helped the younger kids execute their vision. When the city was completely laid out, I honestly got a little choked up.

The following week, the preschoolers made dioramas out of RAFT materials. The boys in the group seemed even more enthusiastic than the girls as they flipped through the wallpaper sample books and decided on fabric for their bedding. These kids are 4 and 5 years old yet they remained focused on their projects for over an hour, two days in a row. They presented the finished projects to their parents with uninhibited pride.

The 1st through 6th graders had a much different theme for their classes. It was Spy week. We made passports and credentials, badges, TOP SECRET files with missions of our own creation. Then we made communicators, laser watches that cut through metal, portable listening devices, invisibility cream and spy gear fanny packs. It was a HIT! (and I was dog tired at the end of each day. )

This last week it was water week so by the time the kids came to me they had been in the sun all day and were in need of some quiet time. We made cards for our troops abroad, hovercrafts and puff rockets which was just the right pace in this heat.

We still have several more weeks before camp ends and I will blog more about the activities as we do them. My next post will be dedicated exclusively to the Innovation Institute. This was a two day journey into creativity and innovation. That is all I will say for now but be prepared to read an incredibly enthusiastic blog with lots of great projects!