As fellow ed-blogger, Joanne Jacobs, recently notes, schools should be teaching the arts for the arts’ sake.
I’m lucky enough to work at a school where I have wonderful colleagues who do exactly this. Mark Roeder is teaching a group of 6th graders who will be engaging in a sculpture project with a final exhibition in Chinatown near the end of the year.
Mr. Roeder’s students will be making small sculptures of an object that is or was important or significant to them at some point in time. The object they’ll choose will be something that says something about them or reveals something about them that they haven’t realized yet. Roeder says that sixth grade is a great time for them to take an art class because they’re not so concerned with their self-image yet and they’ll still take chances in expressing their thoughts, ideas, and experiences. They’re completely uninhibited with the materials for each new project. According to Roeder:
"Every project I have them do is geared towards getting them to look at their worlds like they’re a microscope, small pieces at a time. The more they reflect on their daily lives, the more considerate thinkers they’ll be, and the more considerate they are, hopefully they’ll make better decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities as they get older. I tell my students each and every day that the experiences they have this year, as artists, will make them more interesting people. Being an artist doesn’t require any inherent talent or prerequisite skill. Becoming an artist is a bizarre leap of faith that requires you to say, ‘I am an artist.’ This statement has now defined the nature and freedom of your existence."
While these students have already received supplies donations for their sculptures (microcrystalline wax and carving tools to plan and carve hand-sized wax sculptures), they’re still in need of funds for casting the sculptures at the foundry and purchasing materials to build 30 pedestals for the exhibition. The estimated additional cost of the project remains at a whopping $3500.
So here’s the cool part. Mr. Roeder’s class has already received 45% (that’s 9/20 for those of you 7th grade math students out there) of their goal! That’s already $1560 of their goal.
For those of you who’d like to make a contribution toward this amazing cause, you can do so on this Kickstarter website!
And for those of you who need a little extra push, Mr. Roeder’s class is even offering some pretty sweet rewards.
Check it out.