Sunday, February 03, 2013

diverse...

More boxes...
On Friday I was interviewed by a graduate student concerning the role of diversity in our community as it relates to the arts, and I was reminded of what powerful lessons there are to be learned through living in a community of the arts. A large number of artists are folks who exist to some small degree outside the norm, and here they are normal. In fact, Eureka Springs has been described as a place where misfits fit in, and that is truly a good thing. If you can imagine humanity as a whole field of lemmings, all headed to the sea, we'll be the few headed in the wrong direction upon whose lives renewal of human culture will become manifest.

Throughout the US, education has been driven by standards, whole schemes of standards, and now that we've seen No Child Left Behind left in the dustbin of stupid notions, we are now racing toward a thing called common core standards in which all kids are to be brought to common standards as measured again by standardized tests. In other words, and from the standpoint of administration, we might as well name each child Ditto, whether boy or girl.

And yet children will not be made the same. Diversity is inherent in the human genome. Children, left on their own seek ways in which they may find excellence in expression of self. Abraham Maslow had called that inclination "self-actualization" which does not mean that human beings at their height are at a pinnacle of sameness and mediocrity, but rather diverse and unique in their expressions of human culture.

David Henry Feldman described the "Child as Craftsman" and while he wasn't thinking of craftsmanship in narrow terms, the idea of child as artist might apply as well. We each are compelled to discover things that we are good at... things that set us somewhat apart from our siblings and from our peers, and in which we can find our own unique personal definitions of success.

Last night I had dinner with a friend who claims he can't read, but who's building an elevator of his own design and fabrication to go between his basement and first floor. Then we attended an amazing house concert where Rebecca Loebe performed. She is an itinerant singer/songwriter whose voice can only be described as amazing. I've heard voices like hers on TV. But live music in a small venue (the local UU church), made it one of the most moving and beautiful musical experiences of my life.

Success narrowly defined is stupidity. Education at its best is NOT where all children meet standards imposed from outside their own lives and interests. A better model is one in which children are encouraged and enabled to express themselves fully and completely in the arts. The funny thing is that parents tend to become frightened when their children are in some way different from others. But our differences and diversity are the hallmark of our humanity and if for some reason we survive for more centuries than this one we are now in, it will have been because of the arts.

Reuben sent the following link about Jim Newton, "Patron Saint of Do-it-yourselfers."
As you can see in the photo above, I continue to make boxes, and will be doing so throughout the year, both to see and to illustrate the new box making book.

Make, fix and create...

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