When was the last time you looked at a penny? This morning when you were rifling through your purse? Maybe it was last night as you were cleaning out your pockets before bed. And can you even count how many times you’ve held a penny? 10,000? 50,000? More?
Okay….so here’s a quick test. Try to picture or draw what the front of a penny looks like.
Really – take a minute and draw it out on a scrap piece of paper.
Now….go back into your purse or wallet and take out a penny. Does it look like what you drew?
Yeah, mine didn’t either.
So think back – we’ve all held and used and seen pennies thousands or maybe millions of times in our lives. Why is this so difficult?
Or as Dr. Pamela Paulson asked at a recent arts integration conference….
“How many times do we look at something and not really see it?”
Think about that kid in your classroom that you think you know so well. You might be able to clearly see their face and every detail that makes that face unique. But have you really seen that child recently? Do you know all the parts that encompass that child? Do you know which intelligence they prefer or an artform that they connect to? How many times have you looked at that child and not really seen that child?
The arts give us different pathways in which to see and hear and understand our students. That’s because artists look at things differently. They use all of their senses to look at their work and to go deeper into their work to bring it to life. So that, when you look at a piece, you really SEE it.
By being artists as teachers, we come to a new level of understanding of both our subject matter and the students we teach. We use all of our senses to observe and question and develop our students’ abilities. So that our students can then become artists in their own right.
By encouraging and modeling to our students how to become artists, we are giving them the abilities that will be crucial to become engaging citizens in the 21st century. They can use all of their senses to creativity look at problems, ideas and dispositions in order to design and mold them into something new.
A penny. A simple penny. And I see it in such a different light now. Just imagine how you will see yourself and your students after this moment.
**This series of Lessons Learned from Pamela Paulson will continue throughout this week**
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.