I understand teaching and designing educational programming, within the arts or otherwise, to be a wildly creative act shared among all participants which possesses the powerful potential to transform the lives of individuals and fundamentally change communities.
My approach to teaching and facilitating creative education spaces begins first with an assumption that each participant, including myself, enters the process with their own history, body of knowledge, and unique personality. Further, that we are each sited within a distinct social location, which includes specific corporeal, cultural, ethnic, political, economic, geographic, and generational circumstances that shape our way of being, knowing, and communicating. It is understood that none of these personal narratives and contexts are more or less valid than any other and that difference is always a dynamic asset to personal and collaborative creative processes, if navigated with dignity, compassion, and a focus on deep listening and empathy. As a teacher or facilitator, one of my primary responsibilities is to create a space in which this can occur by setting a compassionate tone and cultivating safety for all to participate fully.
Central to my teaching practice is an emphasis on speculative creative play, critical thinking, dialogue, and inquiry-based learning. By using exploratory tactile processes to investigate one’s inner world through contemplative making and then bridging this knowledge into community through critical dialogue, we are able to grow a complex social‐emotional vocabulary: to name our experiences and feelings, affirm the value of self and others, and articulate how we see the world. A strategy for moving toward this goal is centered on recognizing multiple modalities of learning and intelligence and building diverse entry points into each project or program in order to support every student’s ability to self select their participation. As well, a focus on intentional looking and listening exercises provides opportunities to recognize valuable information that is immediately accessible to each student or participant, with or without access to traditional art or educational materials.
We can achieve this through multisensory knowing and expression, utilizing found objects and images, open source digital and social media, the construction of social story and personal narrative, and carrying out in-depth examinations of place through introspective exploration and experimental observation. This approach translates into curriculum that works to illuminate historically marginalized or vulnerable personal and social narratives, affirm their intrinsic value, and liberate each maker/thinker by reimagining what can be considered an artwork, growing a resourceful, creative vocabulary through the use of familiar materials and the environments of our everyday lives.
Whether carried out privately or in collaboration with others, this process can become a way to strengthen relationships and activate empathy. And ultimately, this practice can build both an individual and collective capacity to transform the world through a deepened sense of self-respect, personal agency, and solidarity with others.