Labor Day Wonderings

It’s Labor Day. 

To me, as to many other teachers, means school is starting and its time to get ready.

As I clean-up my studio and organize my materials, I think about how important sorting out materials with the children can be. And how much fun. Today I am doing it on my own, getting ready to welcome the kids to the studio. For the rest of the school year, the children and I will sort through numerous bags of stuff we get from families, staff, and random people around the college (“I heard you collect recycled stuff here?” is a question I hear more and more often from random people on campus…) and be surprised, marveled, and maybe inspired by different objects and materials.

Over my (many!) teaching years, I have learned - I am still learning - to never underestimate what young children can do with random objects and art materials. I am learning to let go of my adult preconceptions of what things are for, and let my young fellow explorers experiment and discover. Let them do their thing. 

Letting the children do their thing is not always easy, and it definitely requires a trusting and nurturing school environment for the teacher as well as for the children: to let go of all that also means to let go of the clear-cut power of being "the teacher,” and brings things down to being a fellow human being, a fellow explorer of materials. I am still the teacher in charge, still accountable, still the adult who takes responsibility for the safety and the well being of the children over everything else; but I am the person who does all that with the understanding that every child is their own person, with their own ideas and sensibilities. And with all the responsibilities that come with that awareness.

And on this Labor Day I appreciate and treasure the opportunity I am given by my school to be my own person, and to design my art program as I see fit for my school and for my children. To do my thing.