Essential Question?

Do you remember us laying our first ‘mail art’ conversation project on the lawn at Goddard in the summer of 2008?

Hi Laura!

Are you back yet?  Did you have a good trip? This letter actually started out as an email to you, but I have switched it to this public post.  I hope it stirs some others out there to be thinking a bit deeper.

As I mentioned in our last phone conversation, I am taking a break from actual physical creation of work to comb some intellectual territory.  I am also doing a lot of research for my teaching related to aligning my teaching philosophy with how I have been creating artwork the last ten years. To clarify- I am changing my teaching methods from teacher-centered to student-centered by transforming my classroom of projects lead by me to an open studio to be explored by students with reflective writing as an integral part of their process.

These are the questions my school is asking me for my professional development (plus I get $$ to do this research- whaaaaaa?).

Thought I would share and then get you thinking about something….

  1. What do you most want to do as a teacher? What do you want to accomplish?
  2. What don’t you know that you wish you did? How could you best acquire that knowledge?
  3. What practical experience in your field do you feel you have neglected?
  4. What extracurricular activities engage your attention? How might they be incorporated into your classroom activities?
  5. What do you need? What do you want? Why? Be specific.

Laura……would this be a worthwhile exercise for us to talk about for our one-two year plan (together and as individuals)?  Perhaps this can pinpoint HOW to accomplish the goals we have written in our google document by answering questions like these.

I am currently studying the National Art Education Standards that have recently gone to press this past Spring.  They are right in line with all we learned at Goddard, so I am completely geeking out over it.  In a nutshell they articulate the essential aspects the arts give our culture for creating, presenting, responding, and connecting. With each of these pillars is an “essential question” such as “How does collaboration expand the creative process?” and “What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work?”. Sounds like our work, right?


OK… what is the essential question in your work Laura?  What about my work?

I think I have an answer for your art practice and for mine, but I am curious what your answer is.  My answers are very simple like “What is ____?”.  For me, I think that if I have this essential question bumping around in my head for the next two years, I will always be in line with my true nature as a teacher/artist/parent/friend/wife/etc.

Parker Palmer teaches us to live a life of wholeness, and I think I am finally GETTING IT! Goddard taught me to understand this in theory, but now I am understanding how this can be manifested in my life in a literal way.  Maybe this is what becoming older and wiser means, huh?

I am looking forward to our next conversation!



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