By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE
As I sit in isolation on my couch, trying to make sense of our current circumstances, I wanted to reach out to early childhood educators, to provide some free professional learning. I feel like it is the least I can do for other early childhood educators. I am a proud to be an early childhood educator. I started my career, working with young children but eventually, became an early childhood education professor. For almost three decades, I taught at both the diploma and the degree level. I have taught many, many different courses. Probably the course that had the most impact on my practice, was one that was focused on creative art. It was a material-intensive course, that required much attention to set-up and clean-up. I was never sure why I was assigned this course, as I had not studied art and did not consider myself an artist. I did grow up as the child of an artist and that experience shaped my view of art. My mother always felt art should be joyful. What I taught, was what I practised – that we need to provide children with open-ended art experiences, that utilized authentic art tools and materials and that pre-cut shapes, colouring books, step-by-step instruction and cookie cutters took away from art for art’s sake.
As I have retired from full-time teaching, I stay connected to the profession, that I love, by writing this blog and providing professional learning experiences for others. I love traveling across the province, with a car load of materials to provide hands-on workshops. Last year, I was asked to provide a full-day workshop on process art in Chatham, Ontario. Previous to that, I had worked with my colleague and friend, Cindy Green to create a “Back to Basics and Beyond” series for a local child care agency that included block play, dramatic play, art and language and literacy. Together, we created handouts to support professional learning. By providing hands-on process art for educators, there was the hope that the experience would help them to understand, in their bones, and in their hearts, the value of art for art’s sake for children. It is something that is recognized by the educators at the labschool at my former place of employment. Their approach to process art is inspiring!
I have accepted that workshops once scheduled are now canceled or postponed and I wonder what the world of professional learning will be like afterwards? When we emerge from isolation, those who organize professional learning for early childhood educators, will need to consider cost, amongst other things. I hope that there will be much attention paid to accessibility and affordability. I want to start now, to do my part. Here is a PowerPoint on process art. I hope you find it helpful to your professional learning.
The PowerPoint has been saved as a PDF. There are two videos recommended for inspiration. “The Little Boy” based on a poem by Helen Buckley. It is an old production with a message that still resonates.
With a similar message, this video animation of Harry Chapin’s song, “Flowers are Red”, speaks to the value of process art and the inherent problems with product art.
If you click on each image below, you will also be able to access the handouts.
I welcome feedback and comments and look forward to a time when we can be sitting side-by-side with children discovering the joy of process art together. Also, if you have any questions, for future offerings like this on other topics, please let me know.