Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rome fell apart.

As Karl said in his response to my last post, "Rome wasn't built in a day." No, but it fell apart on Monday. I do think that I am up to 3.75 out of 4 buying in to culture, but .25 finally caused the vein-in-forehead-bursting moment.

Building culture: something I spoke about in Atlanta and at Copper Mountain, something I said I do well when we asked C1 what they were good at. And something I continue to struggle with all of the time. Cultures sometimes conflict. Right now the conflicting cultures are one of being interested, driven, questioning, constructive collaborators with the other being one of fancy notebook coloring, shoe decorating, giggling, uninterested, I-want-people-to-notice-me middle-school-lunch-behavior creatures. So what do I really think?

Well, because of an expereince my son had, I was giving the latter group the benefit of the doubt even though their issues were beginning to get in the way of the rest (and their culture was spreading). My 1st grade son loves to draw. One of our phenomenal art teachers at Arapahoe told me that he seems to see the world through the eyes of a visual artist. He has a great attention span and a strong recall of details. One day last week, his class was watching a video of Johnny Appleseed. During the movie, his teacher asked him to stop drawing. Being the 1st grader wanting to please his teacher and being worried that he would be a yellow light (or even a red light) as opposed to the desired green light, he stopped drawing and felt he had gotten in trouble. As he told me his story, he showed me the picture he had been drawing. He had drawn the movie. As he described his picture, it was obvious that he had simply used the picture to take notes. Is this a gender difference? Is it a style of thinking? Is this a young mind creating their learning - soon to be fixed by those who say stop? Is this the moment he stops drawing like my expereince with an un-named teacher at Newton who created a strong dislaike of doing art in her art class? When I discussed this with his teacher, who is part of a group of elementary teachers who seem to be adopting some very constructive approaches, she was surpried by my find and open to the potential that maybe we should foster this type of thinking rather than squelch it.

So I go back to my classroom and thought, gee, maybe they are still creating their learning and I failed to stop bad culture that was upsetting classmates as it was tough to focus beyond the goofy corner. So I took the chance and determined that my son's issue was not the issue in my AP room. The students might not last the week in an AP program that is still a privilege, not a guarantee. Hope I haven't turned into my 7th grade art teacher.

Maybe I should take up drawing again.


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