This week I’m joined by an exceptional arts educator, Marta Cabral of Teachers College at New York’s Columbia University. Marta supports young children in creating art which is then exhibited in a gallery space, allowing her students to experience the roles of artist, curator, and exhibition guide. Her passion for student-directed learning and supporting the artistic expression of even the very youngest children is exceptional.
Here’s Marta on “Being in Wonder (Wonderings and Wanderings of an Early Childhood Studio Teacher)”:
Marta Cabral at MoMa NYC
Photo from Ruth Fremson / New York Times
Ernest Borgnine died on 9th July.
At his booth in Tortilla Flats, a Tex-Mex joint in New York’s West Village, they’ve put up a memorial shrine.
I’ve been there on pilgrimage. It was Borgnine’s birthday. There was free tequila, a colouring competition, and a game of bingo where the numbers had to form an ‘E for Ernie.’
Drunkenly, my date and I used poster paints, glitter and glue to liven up photocopies of Ernest’s face before the bingo caller ordered everyone to toast the aged star (“Here’s to another 95 for Mr. Borgnine!”).
Best. Date. Ever.
You can see my latest piece, commemorating the great man, over at the Cultural Gutter, a Canadian website devoted to disreputable art.
I recently took a contract putting stilted government language into plain speech. I’m rewriting hundreds of web pages covering all kinds of public service – from pest control to parking and schools to recycling.
Public sector copywriting might not sound glamorous, but it’s fun to attack a mountain of jargon and break it down into something clear, friendly and informative to a wider readership.
My education work involves a lot of high school visits, and I meet many students who want to make a living as a writer. Although there’s a few working on screenplays, many teens imagine themselves growing up to be novelists – solitary, self-reliant figures hunched over a desk creating a masterpiece which will earn them Rowling megabucks.
Yet the joys of many writing jobs are not solitary but social. Journalism and copywriting both involve getting out, talking with people, communicating and learning.
It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately as I ploughed through a swathe of writing assignments and tried (only partly successfully) to stay clear of the Internet.
I have a couple of articles out later this year for the Australian science magazines ScienceWise and Australasian Science, profiling scientists who featured in Carl Zimmer’s book Science Ink. Carl uncovered the weird and wonderful world of researchers who have their work tattooed on their bodies after he spotted a DNA helix inked on the arm of a respected neurobiologist at a pool party in the States. This led to a great book collecting photos of striking, beautiful and downright bizarre science tattoos from around the world.
Dr Matt Finch with Behind the Book's Comic Workshop in Brooklyn, NYC
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been appointed to the Advisory Board of Behind the Book, the non-profit organisation which gives students in NYC public schools the chance to learn from published authors and illustrators.
Further to my work designing K-12 curriculum for Behind the Book in 2011, I’ll be supporting them as they build sustained creative partnerships between authors, students and educators across New York City.
You can find out more about Behind the Book here: http://www.behindthebook.org/about_who.html
Coming soon on this site – guest blogging from the high school library that’s a hipster oasis in rural Australia, and a new piece bringing together superheroes, elementary school and gender studies.
You can see my latest community events piece, on New York’s First Annual Kids’ Food Festival,at http://www.dnainfo.com/20120123/midtown/kids-learn-about-healthy-eating-bryant-park
More from NYC soon…
Back in October, I got in touch with the folks at New York Harbor School on the eve of their First Annual Regatta, a nautical event to celebrate the school’s work bringing a unique brand of maritime education to the city’s students.
I discovered the Harbor School while auditing a course for Special Education leaders at New York’s Bank Street College back in February. I was impressed to encounter a US institution which brought together public education with a strong community commitment and a fearsome range of practical training including marine technology, commercial diving and aquaculture!
In my teens I was keener to skive off kayaking lessons and sneak out to Birmingham for shopping and pizza than get on the water. Now, at 31, I can only dream of the kind of maritime opportunities the Harbor School offers its students.
Nate Dudley, the founding principal, got in touch with me by e-mail to discuss the educational adventure currently taking place on Governor’s Island in New York.
Teaching environmental stewardship and maritime skills in the heart of the city
Thursday 6th October sees a unique school in the heart of New York launch a special celebration after eight years delivering teaching and learning from the city’s harbour.
New York Harbor School’s First Annual Regatta will take place at Governors Island, attended by guests from the city’s business and media.
Funds raised will support New York City’s only public maritime high school, which delivers an innovative curriculum blending environmental awareness, practical sea skills and hands-on learning.
We’ll be looking deeper into the work of New York Harbor School in a forthcoming feature on Books and Adventures. In the meantime, you can find out more from the school’s own site, nyharborschool.org
Dr Matt Finch with Behind the Book's Comic Workshop in Brooklyn, NYC
Tonight, Thursday 1st September, I’ll be the guest speaker at the opening dinner of Paint the Town REaD’s Annual Convention in Sydney.
You can find them online at their new home, http://paintthetownread.info/
To discover more about this amazing Australian community literacy scheme, read my recent piece on the website of New York literacy organisation Behind the Book:
A lot of the schemes we feature on Books and Adventures involve encouraging reluctant readers and promoting literacy in the family or wider community. Some, like Wales’ Young People’s Writing Squads, offer support and encouragement to those who already have a talent for writing and want to develop it.
New York’s Writopia Lab project is one of these schemes.
So why do Writopia kids want to write?
‘I just want to have fun writing for myself, and do it for the rest of my life.’
‘I watched my friend cry when she read my story – I want to make kids feel things.’
‘I like to read newspapers and magazines. I want to be part of the conversation that I hear going on.’
That third “kid” was Rebecca Wallace-Segall, who grew up to found Writopia Lab in 2007. A journalist in New York, Rebecca spun off a residency at a private school into a non-profit organization giving children and young people the chance to hone their literary skills with professional writer-instructors.
Rebecca and I met earlier this year at her New York headquarters on the Upper West Side, a cosy place of pine floorboards, comfy sofas and beanbags, its walls decorated with images of books where the children can write the names and titles of their own work on the spines. These are the ‘library walls’ which provide a record of success for Writopia participants, but the available spaces are quickly filling up. ‘We’re going to end up having to go on the ceiling!’ says Rebecca.
She began by explaining to me how Writopia Lab’s mission differs from community literacy programmes which seek to engage reluctant readers and writers.