Thursday, June 19, 2014

Creativity Spectrum: for Professionals, for School Kids, for VBS

I am feeling exhausted for a variety of reasons.  I've written about my cold in this blog post.  It's still with me, although I can feel it retreating.  Today my nose is mostly clear, but my throat is fiercely sore.

Of course, it might have been sore regardless.  It's been a week of Vacation Bible School, which means I've been using my voice more than usual, at higher volume than normal.

I am the Arts and Crafts director (which really means sole teacher) at Vacation Bible School, which also accounts for my weariness.  Each day this week, I've put in a regular day at work, then gone racing home where I changed clothes and then raced to church.

I have 4 batches of students.  Each batch contains 5-10 students.  It should be manageable, right?  We also have at least half as many adults, although sometimes the ratio is closer to one to one.  Again, why isn't this a manageable set up?

I've been feeling like we're just on this side of chaos.  But maybe I'm being too hard on myself.  The kids go home with creations, after all.  So what if the room looks like a rushing wind whirled through?  At the end of the night, all limbs are intact, and no one is bleeding.  You might say that my job has been done successfully.

Are they learning anything substantial?  I remain unsure.  We've had fun with pipe cleaners and Styrofoam cups and plates.  We've used fabric markers on T-shirts.  We once did more with T-shirt adornment, but we don't really have the space for T-shirts to dry--so no cool inking or glitter paint or bubbly attachments.

I think about class sizes and public schools.  School teachers have much larger class sizes.  How do they do this all day?  I go home with an aching head, and I'm only with children from 5:30-9:15, and only intensely for about 2 of those hours.  Some nights, I'm falling asleep as I'm taking my shoes off.

I think about my own school days.  My favorite arts teachers had a hands-off approach.  As I look back, I think they were probably working on their own work or battling addictions.  But I loved having free reign with the art supplies, day after day of playing with different mediums.

Would I rather have had a teacher who taught me more about perspective and how to draw a human figure in a realistic way?  Yes, some days I do.  But I more appreciate the sense of adventure that the hands-off approach gave me.  Unlike my experiences with singing, no one told me that I couldn't draw, and so, I never quit trying.

In 7th grade, I drew horse after sad horse.  I had a friend, Joy, who could draw perfect horses.  I wanted to be able to do that.

I still want to be able to do that.

Today I go to Portfolio Review and later Graduation.  That's my day job--well, my day and evening job.  Then I go to church, where hopefully I will discover that my teen helpers have risen to the challenge and led the children through tonight's project.  It's a kit, so less is required of us all.  I worry about that a bit too.  What if the project takes all of 3 minutes?  It needs to take 20-25.

Luckily there are still other art supplies left.  The kids can color or create interesting shapes out of paper tubes, plates, cups, and pipe cleaners.

I'm intrigued by how many of them like to cut paper.  Are they creating some sort of sculpture that only they can see?  Or is it the calming, Zen-like practice of repeating a motion that attracts them?  I don't know.

It will be an interesting day.  I'll begin with professional artists who are just starting off in a grown-up career.  I'll end with elementary school kids, along with some pre-schoolers.  All day, I'll celebrate the joys of art and creativity. 

There are worse ways to wear myself out.

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