21 January 2013
Australia: Making The PYP Happen, The Role of The Arts.
"The arts were the first and remain the primary forms of human communication--how we understand each other and look inward to understand ourselves. They give voice to ideas and feelings in ways no other communication vehicle can, because they are driven by emotions and passions. The arts engage intellect, heart, and body. They are unique means of knowing, thinking, and feeling based in imagination and cognition." #claudiacornett #meaningmakers
Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Adelaide, Australia for a conference. Stamford American International School is part of the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific. Throughout the year, this organization facilitates conferences where teachers and administrators can collaborate and learn better their craft, be it management or teaching. As part of this conference, I was enrolled in The Role of The Arts in The Primary Youth Programme (PYP) workshop. This workshop's main purpose was to allow teachers from all over Southeast Asia and Australia to work with each other while exploring the scope, purpose and meaningful integration of arts in the PYP.
I am new to PYP. I am also new to Southeast Asia, Australia, and traveling by plane every two seconds. Luckily I am a very adaptable person. I wouldn't say that I'm all that prepared to be traveling on a weekly basis, especially right after being in the United States for 3 weeks. But traveling every once in a while? To study the arts and collaborative teaching methods? I'm in. I love all of it! This is such an exciting experience for me. My school offered to send me to Australia . . . AUSTRALIA!
My 3-day workshop was being taught by Theo Mandziy, an extraordinary 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade art teacher after my own heart. He works with students by connecting their projects to contemporary artists, sometimes inviting the artist into the classroom. Big projects like soccer field-sized murals, Post-it note installations, and large fabric collage stuffed blocks. The images of these projects were incredible. And the way he spoke about teaching and collaboration I found extremely inspiring. "Your projects need to be authentic." He's based in Singapore, which is fabulous! I've already spoken to him about visiting his classroom and observing his teaching. #theomandziy #amazingartteachers #pyp
"The arts are not pretty bulletin boards. They are not turkeys and bunny rabbits. They are not frivolous entertainment. The arts are our humanity. They are the languages of civilization through which we express our fears, our anxieties, our hungers, our struggles, our hopes. They are systems of meaning that have real utility. This is why schools that provide students with the means and the encouragement to explore these realms provide a better education. This explains, too, why the arts are a mark of excellence in schooling."
We studied two articles during the course, The Arts as Meaning Makers by Claudia Cornett and Strong Arts, Strong Schools by Charles Fowler. We also slogged--I use this term lovingly--through a 75-page workbook and created two new unit plans. We put the work back in workshop and it felt great to be surrounded by others in my field, all of us striving towards a common goal and passionate about our life's work. I was extremely energized by the conference and couldn't think of much else once I got back to the hotel.
As a result, I didn't get a chance to do much running around Adelaide. I was busily preparing for Handmade Movement on Saturday: I turned my hotel room into a studio and watched far too many reruns of Friends. (Australian television sort of reminded me of the 90's. Although there was a huge amount of attention focused on a certain cyclist. I won't name any names, but his first name rhymes with prance and begins with an L.)
What I did notice every morning as I walked to the conference, is how strikingly similar Adelaide was to Austin. The air was hot and dry, the people were super friendly, and the parks were abundant and green. People were riding bikes and jogging at all hours of the day. The city was busily preparing for a bike race--of all things--and blocking off streets and putting up tents. And there seemed to be something arts-related on every corner.
As always, I was thoroughly impressed with the complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel. While I didn't get any images of my full breakfasts, I did take several pictures of my eggs. The eggs I had on my 2nd-day-stay were so fluffy, like little white poofs! And on my third and last day there, I splurged and ordered eggs benedict. A plethora of fresh juices were offered, there was even a DIY juicer there you could load yourself with whatever fruits and vegetables were provided and cut for use. Breads, pastries, yogurt. Bacon, potatoes, and chicken sausage. Yes, please. I'll have one of everything. Anyone else this obsessed with complimentary breakfasts? What's been your favorite? #crowneplaza #adelaidesa