#36 Learning from writers in education – part 1: slowness

IMG_3703In New York, I met with Community-Word Project which inspires children in underserved communities to read, interpret and respond to their world through artist in residence programmes. Two teaching artists*–and always one writer-work alongside a classroom teacher for 15-30 weeks.

I met with Patti Chilsen (above!) and Megan Morrison on a stormy New York day. We sat with hot tea in a cosy cafe near Wall Street and talked about the best ways to support artists to work with others.

Community-Word Project’s 8-month Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) prepares artists to genuinely collaborate with teachers, to develop projects linked to the curriculum and pepper the experience with loads of creative ideas.

For this program, artists shadow more experienced peers, build skills slowly and develop expertise.

As part of the training, each artist is invited to undertake much personal reflection on their creativity. There’s lesson planning, trial sessions, classroom management, mentoring and also an element on learning types of pedagogy and learning styles.

A few times Patti used the word ‘slow’ to describe her approach. Rather than speed through sessions and then throw the artist into the classroom, TATIP allows plenty of time to develop skills and learn well.

It’s slow, like the Carl Honoré, concept. Slow, like doing things at just the right speed. Slow, not always a million miles an hour.

* ‘Teaching artist’ is definitely a phrase used a great deal in the US. I don’t hear it as much in the UK but it simply describes artist educators, or community artists who teach their art form in schools, and community settings.