Monday, July 28, 2008

The Road From There to Here

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in an era before I had a thesis or a boyfriend or a gym membership - I used to paint small watercolours paintings. This is one of the first ones I painted, say in 1998 or 1999, on the back of a small cue card. Several years later, not to mention a small, but decent library of watercolour books later, I never managed to create more than a handful of pictures that I liked as much as this one. I guess that says something for beginners luck. I feel that the inukshuk is a very powerful and appealing symbol. To me - it represents both the journey and the landmarks that tell you whether or not you are going in the correct direction. It is associated with culture of our First Nations People - it speaks to me of their knowledge of love of the land and their own journey. I can close my eyes an picture this great stone structure standing firm through the worst of storms to perform its duty to guide them safety to their home - enduring year after year and season after season and as for myself - I have chosen a more convoluted route through life, so I'm always looking for some symbol to reassure me that my choices are sound. I know that there is more to it than that for the Inuit, and I'm looking forward to learning their vision of this symbol - but this is what it says to me.

I was flipping through my artwork when I was packing to move - and I find it definately reassuring that moving north in the right direction. Why else would have I painted so many pictures of inukshuks (ooh.. that isn't the right plural is it?), northern lights and igloos? (Granted the other half of my pictures feature mountains and trees) Of the five of my paintings currently hanging up - one is an inukshuk beside a cold looking river with mountains and a sunset in the back ground, 2 feature a lone pine tree on a small island - one with a sunset in the background and the other with the northern lights, 1 is a picture of a lone snag in a clear cut (from my tree planting days) and the last is an individual in parka with a sled in the winter with assorted spruce trees and the northern lights. So, you get the picture (ooh... bad pun) - my artwork says I'm finally following my heart to the place that my eyes and soul long for...

When I lived in Kashechewan, I used to love teaching art to my Grade 8's. Art was often a double period on Friday afternoons - where everyone was usually calm and relaxed and having fun and, if I do say so myself, we did some cool stuff. As for me, after school ended, then my art would begin. I'd head home and continue painting while I cooked supper. Sometimes - it was the start of the plan for the next week, but often I just painted or drew whatever called to me and it helped me unwind after a long and busy week of teaching. I miss the meditativeness of painting. Most of my stuff isn't that good - in fact some of it is downright awful. But I think that made me a better teacher - because I could say to my students - I love to draw and paint and sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it doesn't, but I do these things because I find them relaxing and fun and I enjoy painting the bad ones as much as the good ones and I don't let my lack of talent stop me from keeping doing something I enjoy - I just keep trying to get better and when something good happens - then I know I'm on the right track. I think that saved me from a lot of discipline issues.. because no one had to feel bad if their art work didn't come out great - because art was about learning and trying new techniques and no one was expected to get it perfect on their first try.

So - I have two weeks to go and one of my biggest jobs is to explore my own teaching philosphy and how I think it'll work in the North. I know that whatever I plot and plan from here will need serious retooling when I get a feel for what my students need, want and thrive on - but for now - I can take some time and think about who I am, my strengths and my weaknesses and how I can take both of them and put them to work and what I think makes a good classroom and learning environment. Not that I haven't been thinking about this for months - I'm sure half the time I fall to sleep mulling teaching over in my head - but I need to gather those thoughts into a coherant manifesto and then evaluate what they add up to.... and then maybe make up a rubric to give them some kind of letter grade (okay.. I'm kidding about the rubric). For the most part, I already have a good idea what kind of teacher I am - I've been that teacher on the ground - this is more about thinking about where I want to go from there - which parts to keep and which parts to slowly chisel away at and shape into a future me...... building on what I've got to be something more. So, I guess I have two weeks and the rest of my professional life to work on perfecting and building my perfessional persona and philosophy as a teacher and so...on that note... away I go.
Posted by Picasa

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Wonder Woman! said...

be the inspiration they need - to explore. themselves.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Jennith said...

Well.. .I'll try just a bit to be a little like you.. and then I'll be well on my way to being that... you'll just have to be my inspiration! Thanks!

12:31 AM  
Blogger Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Your paintings are gorgeous! I can't even draw a good stick-man!

Hope you aren't stressing out too much there! Don't worry- it will all fall into place!

12:43 PM  
Blogger Jennith said...

Thank you Kara! I'm still mostly stressing out about practical things around moving - but the sun will continue rising and setting even if I have to go without a frying pan for a couple of days. It'll be like first year university... making instant oatmeal with warm tapwater.... :D no dishes necessary :D

5:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home