Friday Teacher Tip: Be an artist!


Sketch of teacher-saint
Sketch of teacher-saint

So it turns out, I’m an artist.  I mean, I always knew that this was so, because since kindergarten I’ve been making things.  I’ve worked in crayon, colored pencil, pen, colored pen, pencil, graph paper, wire, art pen, brush pen, and all manner of other materials.  I’ve even done a little wood carving from time to time.

So when I heard that the cover of the New Yorker magazine had been done using a program or app for the iPhone called Brushes, I downloaded this program, and experimented.  I mean, a new art tool for only $4 is unusual, and useful. One should take all the chances one can get.

But behold — making art is a really good way to connect with history.  This is not a great icon, of course.  But because it’s a recognizable figure, and because it’s not perfect, it will make it ok for my students to do art of their own when we do Byzantium next year.  If we do Byzantium, of course. Curriculum is always subject to change.

But I also realized, by doing this, that I could in fact do most of the illustrations for my movie, using my iPhone application.  In fact, my only real frustration right now is that this tool only exists for the iPhone, and not in a form that I can use on my regular MacBook laptop.   How cool would it be to be able to do a whole series of drawings like this on my Mac, and use them as the basis of my planned third movie?  Would more people watch it, knowing that it’s original art and not just borrowed/copied images?

But even more important, children learn by doing.  If you the teacher demonstrate that you are an artist, and that you care about making art, and that you make art on a regular basis, then it is more likely that your students will want to engage in making art.  Maybe, instead of asking students to write papers on history, we should ask them to respond to historical events with poems, short stories, pictures, comic books, spreadsheets, recipes, games, sculptures, animations, websites, wikis, and imagination. Maybe if we did that, our students would be more interested in history, and in creativity.  Maybe they would become more involved in art history, too, if they saw how past peoples made art, and how making art is part of our destiny, too.

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One comment

  1. Excellent suggestion that you must model what you want to encourage in children. Hearing that you’re an artist, as a child, can have a huge impact as well. I remember my teachers calling me a writer at a young age, and I’m sure that’s part of why I’m a writer today.

    That cover caught my eye this week (especially the title, Fingerpaining), but I had no idea it was an iPhone app. Thanks for sharing!

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