Putting Your Mark on the Page

 

 


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IMG_2043Back to my blog after a hiatus.

Life is so full – so busy. Mostly full doing things I love to do. Not busy doing stuff I should do, like paying bills, house cleaning…

I’m still collecting artwork from elementary school classrooms, but just from one school, Leap Academy, not schools city wide. This past spring I photographed and posted online to “artsonia.com” over 1,000 images of student work initiated by art teachers Jeff Phillips and Nina Speart. Check it out. Go to the website, then click on Camden City, NJ and you’ll see it.

I know by printing out and sharing these images from K to 5th grade throughout the city that the spirit of Camden can be uplifted. Such talented teachers and students.

Volunteering in a Rutgers Early Learning Research Academy pre-K class this summer has been an experience. It has caused me to think about children who are fearful to pick up a crayon and put their marks on a page. One five-year old in particular, is behind the others in learning his alphabet. It seems the only time he puts pencil to paper is when a teacher asks him to trace the dots of alphabet letters on an exercise sheet. It appears he has no experience at home with fooling around with pencil and paper.

I take out my Japanese Language Writing primer that I’ve often referred to for the past five decades* and look at the characters first graders must learn for school. The characters are so much more interesting (to me) than the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.

I try to steer this five-year old away from the drudgery of tracing alphabet letters to keep up with his peers, to the fun of just making his own marks – just drawing stuff on a page. When I fool around myself with abstract shapes on my paper, he becomes more interested with working his crayons on his own page.

It seems like such a simple way to get him ready for kindergarten. But the problem is there is NO ONE else in his life who wants, or feels it necessary, to do one-on-one playing with colors and shapes on his page. No one to celebrate his individuality.

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*I taught English as a Second Language at Futaba Gakuen in Tokyo in the 60’s

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