Why teach the Elementary "I" School
This project is designed to enlarge each students
potential space for creativity by enlarging the discursive space
of the classroom.
What thoughts, feelings, ideas, and stories can be mentioned and
discussed in the classroom?
Moments from our pasts are often formative, constituting who we
are and what we will become.
These personal stories are not available to us for experiencing
and acting upon unless they are remembered and retold.
The Elementary "I" Project is about
encountering our own earlier selves, experiencing them, engaging
them, and reflecting on what lessons they have to teach us about
our work as teachers today.
Seeing the wisdom of our earlier selves allows us to see and cultivate
the wisdom of our students. In a dialogical style of teaching, we
learn as we teach, giving to our students the tools they need to
structure and tell the stories of their lives. To do this effectively
we need to remember the ways we were and were not enabled to share
our thoughts and feelings in our own educations. Through artmaking,
our students learn to tell and hear their own stories in their richness,
complexities, contradictions, and possibilities.
In this project, well connect the development of visual and
verbal literacy. Well consider how images can generate discussion,
analysis, engagement, and critical thinking and writing. Well
consider how familiarity with various styles of modern artmaking
can free young (and more mature) artists from the constraints of
visual realism, allowing them to explore their own realities. Well
see how skills such as alternative practices for imaging space,
attention to detail and composition, and strategies for creating
elegant and simple human figures, constitute a language to express
and explore inner self.
Using words and images together helps a student to find his or her
authentic voice. Helping students visualize and share their personal
stories tells them that their lives are important, that their experiences
are a valuable contribution to the school and society.
Telling his or her story allows the young person
to feel the sense of agency and possibility that comes from being
seen and being heard.
Artmaking and storytelling allow youths and the youth in
adults to remember, to grow, to learn, to make, and to make things
Teachers, enlarge the space for discussing
the full experience of education. Share your Elementary "I"
stories with your students.
Olivia Gude, 2000