Elementary Education: It Was Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

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As a person that is very interested in curating spaces, (including my apartment) I have found that I spend a lot of my time imagining what sort of imagery I will devote space to in my future classroom. We spend a lot of time discussing the layout and warmth of the classroom in our graduate program, but whenever we do my brain instantly extends to what will be covering the walls and what I will want it to mean to my students. I have a vivid imagination and in it I can see an entire space dedicated to local artistry. And I have a very specific goal in mind for my local artistry wall.

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It’s no secret that funding for arts education is slowly disappearing in the United States. It’s happening for many different reasons, none that I can pretend to understand. As a person who was taught the value of artistic endeavors from a very young age (and am who I am today because of that), it worries me that children are being deprived of the ability to express themselves creatively.

This is a large part of why I want to have a local artist wall in my classroom. I will choose informative art, inspirational art, educational art – but it will have all been chosen specifically because I can help the students identify the artist who has created it. On the wall, in addition to the prints, will be bios of the artists from our community that the students can read. I also like to imagine that these artists will come in and speak to my students about what they do, why it matters, and how it is to work as an artist.

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The wall will also include a space for my students to take turns featuring their own art, so that they can identify themselves as a “local artist.” And I plan to extend that idea even further too. You know how you had a role in your elementary school classroom, like line leader or classroom helper? Well, I’m going to give my students jobs like photographer, journalist, artist, poet, musician, archaeologist, and environmentalist. The students will be given the tools each week to act out the role of their profession. The archaeologist will uncover something to share with the classroom. The environmentalist will bring in a new tip to the classroom for living a green lifestyle. The photographer will be given a disposable camera and will be asked to document a week’s worth of what’s happening in the classroom, the school, and their community at large.

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And here is how I imagine myself two years from now: as an educator who inspires a generation of students to appreciate or to perhaps contribute to the world as creators of artistic endeavors. I figure this way, if our generation really does fully cut arts spending, then maybe the next generation will be the ones to revive it back into existence.