Monthly Archives: December 2013

Art… An Extraordinary Expression of Self

  • Self is the core of who we are.



    It is an infinitely deep well of renewal, connection and creation. My creative process is the search for and exploration of my infinite Self, to know and be present to my Self. In knowing my Self I know how I am different from all others and how I am the same as all others. I am extraordinary and ordinary. Connecting the two is the creative process. It is expressiveness going extraordinary. I want my students to find their extraordinary expressiveness.

    D2-2 copy


    To truly open to one’s Self the artist should resist judgments and categorizations, be curious, be moving, shift perspective, boldly go where they have never been before. We are held by gravity, which allows us, equally, to fall and to fly, just as a bird pushed from its nest takes flight from its falling.



    In building an educational art studio that harbors and encourages the creative process, I strive to give the young artist-students protection and armor from the judgments of others, positive and negative, benign and aggressive. I am realistic about the futility of suppressing such powerful human traits, but I am convinced of the necessity of struggling toward that safety, while at the same time flirting with the danger of being wrong and failing. Necessary and inherent in the creative process is failure and, simultaneously, the faith that I am, in reality, worthy and, ultimately, safe.



    How do I teach the creative process? I don’t. Being creative is inherent to humans. It does not need to be taught. I get out of the way. I protect the space. I give them time. I display faith. I patiently wait for them to do what is inevitable: be creative. Persistently and very gently I prod their creative process along.



    I provide resources and media. When asked, I teach techniques. I remain curious about what the students are experiencing and what they are doing. I encourage them to doggedly go where their curiosity and excitement takes them. If they get joy from the process they will play long and hard at it. Their technical abilities will naturally grow and mature. They will work through the blocks and “failures.” The failures cease to be “failures.” The “failures” become information opening up directions, resources, and possibilities hidden by the students’ habits, assumptions, tendencies, reactions and finite vision. The creative process is a portal to the universe of infinite possibilities.






    Outdoor Adventure

  • by Peter Kornmeier

    “This was the best day of school ever!”


    In Shenandoah National Park

    It wasn’t so much that my student had enjoyed missing a day of classes, but that he and his friends had just completed the strenuous nine-mile hike and rock scramble to the top of Old Rag, the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park.  The trip was the culmination of my Outdoor Adventures class, where the students exercised and learned technical outdoor skills while participating in several rock climbing and hiking field trips.

    Boulder prop

    On Old Rag

    Fortunately, my least favorite question was not asked during the class.  No students asked, “When am I going to use this in the real world,” because, well, we were in the real world.  As a math teacher, I am constantly striving to engage my students, but outdoor education is the one venue where I never have to try.  My favorite day was when a student announced he had learned the Prusik knot and wanted to teach the class how to use a Prusik to ascend a rope in case of emergency.  I just sat back and watched.  This authentic sharing of knowledge—common at our school—was still a refreshing change from me assigning a presentation and the student attempting to discuss the topic well enough to earn a decent grade.  When a student does not feel like she is doing work for a class, it creates a fun and collaborative atmosphere where she wants to be present.

    going up in Great Falls National Park

    going up in Great Falls National Park

    According to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, there are many ways to teach and learn new information, and every student has his or her own unique pattern of intelligences.  Traditional classroom learning is heavily biased towards students who possess strength in what Gardner refers to as logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligences.  At The New School, we strive to incorporate each of the intelligences into our methods of instruction and assessment, which has a profoundly positive effect on the level of student engagement.

    going down

    Going Down

    One day I took a linguistic approach toward teaching the students the steps to tie a figure eight knot, an essential knot for rock climbing.  Most of the students easily followed the instructions I had written on the board and quickly mastered the figure eight knot.  However, one student was particularly frustrated and confused.  The next day, I took a visual-spatial approach and drew him a diagram of the steps, and he understood it instantly.  That visual-spatial strength also helped him excel at mapping complex climbing routes up a rock face.  I was amazed to watch him transform from a quiet and relatively apprehensive student into a confident, vocal leader who was eager to help out his classmates on climbing trips.


    Homeward Bound

    At the end of a class, I always hope that I have inspired my students.  As they were leaving on the last day, they thanked me and told me about their plans for their own adventures outside of school.  I smiled and reminded them to double check their figure eight knots.