Yesterday the guides who work in school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery met to learn about a new art activity we will be doing with children called The Power of Print. Students will use printer ink, paint, stencils and their own creativity to create posters that send a message about an issue that is important to them. As I was working on my poster about diversity I thought how just a few years ago I would have been so intimidated about creating art I wouldn’t have enjoyed an activity like this at all. Now I can.
Art professor and popular author Lynda Barry says so many of us never start creating art or we stop, because we think we are supposed to show mastery of the craft. But she says it is perfectly valid and in fact very important for everyone to feel they can use art as a way to explore their feelings, voice their opinions, document their experiences or just have fun and relax.
Oh To Be A Kid At The Fringe Festival
Sunday Afternoon at the WAG
I was talking to a teacher this week who said for a professional development day her department had participated in an Ed Camp. I’d never heard of an Ed Camp before and I wanted to find out what it was all about so I did some research.
At an Ed Camp no topics have been pre-determined before the event begins and there are no speakers or presenters hired. For the first thirty minutes or so of the day participants chat with others and write topics they would like to discuss with their colleagues on sticky notes. Then the organizing committee looks at all the sticky notes- chooses the most popular topics, removes duplicates and uses a large grid to post the location for discussions, the times and the topics. It might look like this.So if you were interested in talking about all day kindergarten you’d go to room 603 at 9:10 and everyone in the room would discuss that topic together. Or if you wanted to talk about doing Multi Media projects with students you’d go to room 702 at 2:30.
Everyone is on equal footing in each room. Everyone shares their ideas and questions. But…… if the discussion isn’t going anywhere or isn’t what you were looking for it is imperative for you to leave and go elsewhere. It may be that most people migrate to just a few rooms where the discussion is hot and heavy and meaningful but that’s okay.
This poster encourages everyone to talk in their sessions and to leave sessions that aren’t interesting or helpful.
Sounds like a very unique kind of professional development. This journal article contends that 94% of teachers who participate in ed camps find them rewarding and helpful. A much better record I suspect than most traditional professional development days where folks sit passively and listen to speakers.
Now I’m wondering how ed camp type events might work in businesses, in churches, in university classes, in non-profit organizations and for staff at public institutions like art galleries and museums?
I think I’d like to try going to an Ed Camp.
Improving Education in Manitoba
My husband Dave with kids he taught in Jamaica
Yesterday I met with the eight university education students I will be mentoring during the coming academic year. I asked the fifth year students to give the fourth year students some advice about their student teaching practicums which I will be supervising. One fifth year student really nailed it.
“Be present,” she advised. “Turn off your phone when you enter the school and put it away and don’t turn it on again till you leave. Nothing will happen in the seven or eight hours you are in the classroom that can’t wait for your attention. The kids need your attention. They need you to be really present, not on your phone.”
With a group of my Winnipeg student teachers and the cooperating teachers who supported them
She went on. “And be present in the staffroom. Don’t be on your phone at lunch or on breaks. Don’t be watching Netflixs or reading on your Kindle during the noon hour. Actually talk to the other teachers, get to know them, make friends. It is through personal contacts like that you will get a job.”
What a smart woman! And her advice doesn’t only hold for student teachers, but for all of us. Turn off your electronics and be present with your family, with friends, at concerts, at church, at work, even when you are walking down the street. Notice things. Notice people. Smile, talk, relate. Be present!
The Salmon Saved Him
Looking At Stuff in a Different Way
Here is a photo of the board of trustees of the Hanover School Division in the 1960s. This is the school division where I attended school and worked almost my entire career as a teacher.
Here is a photo of the current board. Notice any difference? This second photo includes three men who serve as the division’s superintendents. If you factor that in it means that in 2018 there are more female trustees than male trustees.
In an interesting article called Why Women Need to Be Elected to Office writer Dawn Hucklebridge notes that the United States has an abysmally low record when it comes to electing women to political office compared to other countries. But the one exception is that women comprise 40% of elected officials on school boards.
The same article makes some interesting claims.
- Women are more likely to run for office because they feel called to serve and want to make a difference in their community. Men report running to fulfill a life long dream.
- Women are more productive and progressive in political office than their male counterparts.
- They are more likely to champion policies that support women and families.
- They are more likely to work across the aisle with political opponents.
- They introduce more new legislation and policy.
- There is less corruption during their terms of service.
The article suggests that women’s desire to serve and make a difference on school boards should make those boards fertile ground for candidate recruitment for other offices. Women who have served on school boards view political office as a way to fix problems and improve their communities. And those are exactly the values needed in higher political office.
Thankfully Times Have Changed
Women Were Honored? Think Again.
Are You This Determined to Vote?
A feature about the composers Rodgers and Hammerstein on the CBS show Sunday Morning had me remembering my performance in the musical Oklahoma when I was in grade twelve. I played the female lead Laurey. Check me out center stage in an old newspaper clipping from the local paper The Carillon . When I look at it I think ……………
- Tickets to the musical were only $1.00. My how times have changed since 1971.
- Highschool musicals in Steinbach were big deals. The newspaper reports that weekend performances were sold out!
- How lucky I was to have an amazing mother who sewed that dress for me. I kept it long after the musical was over I loved it so much.
- How lucky I was to have hard working teachers willing to go the extra mile to stage musicals with their students. I believe Mr. Elbert Toews our Glee Club conductor directed this one.
- How I can still remember the words to some of the songs from that musical like O What A Beautiful Morning.
- How forward thinking some of the lyrics to those songs were. In this photo I am singing Many a New Day and when I bring the lyrics to mind I think they were pretty liberating for a woman to be singing in 1942 when the musical was written.
Why should a woman who is healthy and strong
Blubber like a baby if her man goes away
A weeping and a wailing how he’s done her wrong?
That’s one thing you’ll never hear me say
Never gonna think that the man I lose
Is the only man among men
I’ll snap my fingers to show I don’t care
I’ll buy me a brand new dress to wear
I’ll scrub my neck and I’ll brush my hair
And start all over again.
- My leading man in the musical who played the role of Curly was a guy named Eddie Unger. I wonder where he is now?
Sleeping Under the Eaves
The Song My Paddle Sings
Lessons From Leonard
Filed under Education, Music
Looking through some old photos I came across this one of my husband Dave taken in 2010 when we were teaching in Hong Kong. A new athletic field had just been built at our international school, made possible by a large donation from a wealthy patron.The day the new field was dedicated many high-profile friends of the patron gathered for the ceremony. Part of the agenda was a tour of the school so all the visitors could see our teachers and students in action. Dave was taking a year off from regular classroom teaching in the high school, but he was doing lots of substituting. That day he happened to be substitute teaching in a grade one class. Don’t you think the visitors chose to pause at his door and watch the class in action. The photographer covering publicity for the day photographed Dave and it was his photo that was featured in all the media associated with dedication of the athletic field at our school.
It is sort of like the day he was substituting for the very first time in the three-year old class on the kindergarten campus, when the door opened and in walked four Hong Kong Education Institute student teachers to spend the day with him and learn about teaching kindergarten. Non-pulsed Dave put them to work at various activity centres. I wonder if they even knew he’d never taught three-year olds before?
Dave with his highschool advisory group in Hong Kong
Perhaps the key to Dave’s success in the classroom at any grade level could be attributed to something he said when he was being interviewed for the school paper just before we left our jobs in Hong Kong. One of the young journalists asked Dave, “And what are all the different subjects you have taught Mr. Driedger?” Dave replied, “I don’t teach subjects- I teach students. “
Dave’s New Chair
A New Sport for Dave
Davey at the Bat
Last Monday an engaging speaker named Jordyn Sheldon from The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties led a presentation for the guides who facilitate school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. One activity she had us do was color in a Power Flower. If we were part of the group named on a petal we colored it in.
As I looked at my completed flower I realized I was in a pretty privileged and powerful position. There were only two groups- males and people 30-50 that I wasn’t part of. Jordyn had us think about how our membership in these various groups impacted our work at the art gallery. I realized the fact I am a woman might influence the way I lead my tours.
The work of Pitaloosie Salia was featured in a recent exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
I think I tend to highlight women artists more as I tour people through the galleries. We’ve had some wonderful one woman shows recently featuring female Inuit artists like Oviloo Tunille, Elisapee Ishulutaq and Pitaloosie Saila. I suspect I give them priority and often spend a greater percentage of my tour time in galleries featuring talented female artists.
The Farmer’s Daughter by Prudence Heward
If I am giving a tour of Canada’s Group of Seven I’ll be sure to mention that even though there were some fine female artists working at the same time as the now famous group, because of a lack of rights for women in the early 1900s, they routinely weren’t included in Group of Seven exhibitions. If we have work by one of those women like Emily Carr or Prudence Heward up in the gallery I’ll be sure my tour participants see it.
Daphne Odjig at the opening of a show of her work in Toronto when she was 89 years old
I think the fact that I am part of an older demographic than the one referred to on the flower power petal may make me more sensitive to things like putting up extra chairs at various spots in the gallery when I give tours to senior groups. I understand people in that age category might need to sit down a little more often on a tour. I also may be more open to how much I can learn from the seniors I tour. I have come to realize that even if they struggle with some frustrating memory loss, they can still be a rich storehouse of knowledge and personal experience when it comes to the art on display. I also tend to talk a little more about artists like Daphne Odjig who continued to produce artwork in her eighties and even nineties.
Jordyn’s presentation made me realize that being part of a less powerful group can be a good thing because it heightens your sensitivity and awareness as you do your work. However it should also make you more understanding of how people in the areas where you do have the upper hand might feel, and inspire you to take their lack of power into consideration and look for ways you can become their ally.