"Nothing you create is ultimately your own, yet all of it is you. Your imagination, it seems to me, is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence, and is not intrinsic to you, rather it is a construction that awaits spiritual ignition. Your spirit is the part of you that is essential. It is separate from the imagination, and belongs only to you. This formless pneuma is the invisible and vital force over which we toss the blanket of our imagination — that habitual mix of received information, of memory, of experience — to give it form and language. In some this vital spirit burns fiercely and in others it is a dim flicker, but it lives in all of us, and can be made stronger through daily devotion to the work at hand. In my view, […], worry less about what you make — that will mostly look after itself, and is to some extent beyond your control, and perhaps even none of your business — and devote yourself to nourishing this animating spirit. Bring all your enthusiasm to bear on the development of that good and essential force. This is done by a commitment to the creative act itself. Each time you tend to that ingenious spark it grows stronger, and sets afire the ordinary gifts of the imagination. The more dedication you show to the process, the better the work, and the greater your gift to the world. Apply yourself fully to the task, let go of the outcome, and your true voice will appear. You'll see. It can be no other way."
- Nick Cave
Okay so I’m an elementary school art teacher right, and I have this really fun game I made a PowerPoint for to teach like, emotions and intent and looking at the whole picture to first grade.
The idea is, when we count down and change slides, kids have to mimic one thing in the painting as best they can, whether it’s animate or inanimate. If there’s nothing in the shot for them to mimic (because I threw some contemporary abstract stuff in), they have to show me how the painting makes them feel. Easy enough, gets them excited to move around and vocal about their feelings regarding art, it’s very chaotic. I can tell pretty fast who’s got the emotional maturity to mimic things in a complex way, and who’s just enough of an abstract thinker to mimic inanimate objects early on in the game...
So the first picture is this:
Napoleon Crossing the Alps. My favorite reactions are usually the kids who pretend to be the freaked-out horse, but 2 memorable occasions were the one where a student immediately scrunched up to be the rock in the foreground, and the one where a pair of girls, without any communication on their parts, decided to be Napoleon riding the horse with one as Napoleon and one as the horse. Basically one of them fully tackled the other apropos of nothing, it was hilarious
I’ll add more if y’all want or if I feel like it lol I have a bunch of stories from this one game
I was in Chemistry class and we were learning about the science of love, so our teacher had us kissing each other. No one seemed to have a problem with it, and my two friends who were in that class just started making out with each other. I was extremely uncomfortable and just sat there amidst everyone in the class kissing each other, and then the teacher played music and Welcome to the Black Parade came on and everyone got up on the desks and started screaming the lyrics.
So, okay, fun fact. When I was a freshman in high school… let me preface by saying my dad sent me to a private school and, like a bad organ transplant, it didn’t take. I was miserable, the student body hated me, I hated them, it was awful.
Okay, so, freshman year, I’m deep in my “everything sucks and I’m stuck with these assholes” mentality. My English teacher was a notorious hard-ass, let’s call him Mr. Hargrove. He was the guy every student prayed they didn’t get. And, on top of ALL OF THE SHIT I WAS ALREADY DEALING WITH, I had him for English.
One of the laborious assignments he gave us was to keep a daily journal. Daily! Not monthly or weekly. Fucking daily. Handwritten. And we had to turn it in every quarter and he fucking graded us. He graded us on a fucking journal.
All of my classmates wrote shit like what they did that day or whatever. But, I did not. No, sir. I decided to give the ol’ middle finger to the assignment and do my own shit.
So, for my daily journal entries, over the course of an entire year, I wrote a serialized story about a horde of man-eating slugs that invaded a small mining town. It was graphic, it was ridiculous, it was an epic feat of rebellion.
And Mr. Hargrove loved it.
It wasn’t just the journal. Every assignment he gave us, I tried to shit all over it. Every reading assignment, everyone gushed about how good it was, but I always had a negative take. Every writing assignment, people wrote boring prose, but I wrote cheesy limericks or pulp horror stories.
Then, one day, he read one of my essays to the class as an example of good writing. When a fellow student asked who wrote it, he said, “Some pipsqueak.”
And that’s when I had a revelation. He wanted to fight. And since all the other students were trying to kiss his ass, I was his only challenger.
Mr. Hargrove and I went head-to-head on every assignment, every conversation, every fucking thing. And he ate it up. And so did I.
One day, he read us a column from the Washington Post and asked the class what was wrong with it. Everyone chimed in with their dumbass takes, but I was the one who landed on Mr. Hargrove’s complaint: The reporter had BRAZENLY added the suffix “ize” to a verb.
That night I wrote a jokey letter to the reporter calling him out on the offense in which I added “ize” to every single verb. I gave it to Mr. Hargrove, who by then had become a friendly adversary, for a chuckle and he SENT IT TO THE REPORTER.
And, people… The reporter wrote back. And he said I was an exceptional student. Mr. Hargrove and I had a giggle about that because we both knew I was just being an asshole, but he and the reporter acknowledged I had a point.
And that was it. That was the moment. Not THAT EXACT moment, but that year with Mr. Hargrove taught me I had a knack for writing. And that knack was based in saying “fuck you” to authority. (The irony that someone in a position of authority helped me realize that is not lost on me.)
So, I can say without qualification that Mr. Hargrove is the reason I am now a professional writer. Yes, I do it for a living. And most of my stuff takes authorities of one kind or another to task.
Mr. Hargrove showed me my dissent was valid, my rebellion was righteous, and that killer slugs could bring a city to its knees. Someone just needs to write it.
16/7/2021 - Friday
*stares intensely at my cup of green tea*
My student has been doing so well. She's moved on from additions in just 2 days :'). Today, we'll be doing subtractions but more specifically, trying to practice subtracting single-digit numbers before double digits. After her session, then it's crunch time to finish with my TTMIK Level 1 book!
Hey teachers, especially middle + high school teachers:
If your student is really smart, but doesn't turn anything in, it's almost guaranteed they are neurodivergent.
Send them for a referral, express this to their parents, or offer them a little more leniency. No student just "lacks drive" but still scores well on tests. That's ADHD.
a few days ago i cycled home through the first thunderstorm of the year. it always feels like a special occasion to me: it's the starting shot of the summer that is approaching, slowly but surely wrapping up the academic year, and if not more free days, then at least the promise of spending more time outdoors with friends and family. until then, i'll be here at this desk, planning and teaching my lessons.