Some pun on the word “integration”

April 9, 2010

Bet you thought that disjointed last post was all the arts education blather I had in me today, didn’t you? Nope! I promised myself I’d keep and account of my classes week by week, and I didn’t really write anything about what we actually did this week.

The course is designed for artists who want to teach in schools, so there’s been a lot of stuff about school and teacher culture so far. This week, the two instructors re-enacted a teacher-artist planning meeting, which was both instructive and entertaining. (Their fake planning meeting went very smoothly, and I was hoping for a second example that would demonstrate a less amiable meeting – I wanted drama!) The one thing that struck me most was that Michelle, as the artist going into a classroom, asked the Andrea (as the teacher) what her kids had been doing recently in class, so that she could plan to incorporate things that the kids were already familiar with and interested in into her own lesson plan. I really love this type of integration, and it really makes sense to me.

After their demo, we broke into groups based on our various disciplines (there are writers, musicians, dancers, actors, painters, sculptors, and more in the class – it was hard for me to choose between “writing” and “theatre”, since there is so much overlap for me, but I joined the theatre group) for one useless exercise that led into a more useful exercise where we started planning a project that we could take into a classroom. This is my favourite stuff – I had a great time coming up a puppet- and playwriting-based project that could be incorporated into an elementary level curriculum.

For next week, we’re to think about how a planning meeting with a teacher might go for this project, which I think I will do by way of scripting a little scene. We’ve also got a list of “teaching tactics” that we’re supposed to think about incorporating into our project. The tactics themselves aren’t bad, but the cutesy names are a bit much, and there are a couple that are sort of pointless and needlessly complicated (“Placemat” and “Lighthouse”, for example – can we please just brainstorm like normal people instead of wasting paper and time seriously come on!) But the tactics for getting the group’s attention and winding things up are helpful.

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