What I learned in class this week…

Imagine walking into class; the tables are on the sides and two long stops of brown paper have been taped to the floor. At the head of the class is a table covered in drawing materials. The only instructions we see at this point are signs on the floor warning us not to step on the paper.

The teacher then tells us to pick our favourite drawing materials. I chose pastels, not because they are my favs; I don’t think I have a fav, but because it felt right for today. Then she instructed us to sit at a spot in front of the paper, “close, but not touching my fellow student (wink, wink)”. “Now close your eyes and imagine the day you were born. On that day, a tree was planted has grown to mirror your life’s experiences. Imagine what that tree would look like. Open your eyes and draw it.”

For me, it was a beautifully personal experience and I’m grateful the teacher didn’t ask us to explain the meanings of our trees. What was even more beautiful to me was to see how many different ways we could express a tree and how very personalized each tree was. I took some time to watch the faces of my classmates as they drew. (I’m glad that most of them don’t notice me doing it, because some might find it creepy.) What I noticed was amazing. It mirrored what I always do when I draw. I could almost hear the stories they were creating ass they drew their trees; as if they were practicing how to explain the significance of their personal visions. It was just… well, beautiful!

Another amazing this I’m learning is to let go of the comparisons with others, in regards to skills and abilities. Art is about expression and is inextricably subjective. We are learning how to create classrooms that are safe zones to express ourselves. What an amazing skill to learn as I develop my teaching skills.

I’m not permitted to share the work of others from this class, mainly because most of the pictures show the artists faces, but I am happy to show mine. I won’t go into details about the tree, not give dramatic descriptions, but I can say the roots are strong family ties, the broken branches are lifev traumas, and the joining of the three greens you see in the leaves are me andf the two most important people in my life: my wife and daughter.

I’m open to questions, comments and feedback on this activity and will happily share my perspectives on it.

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