Sunday, March 6, 2011

Finding Education Everywhere

This past weekend my family and I packed up the minivan and headed west to St. Louis. We were going for my niece's 16th birthday surprise party. The trip was quick and everyone behaved themselves for most of the trip. I was excited to go and leave my educator's worries behind and really enjoy some time away from school work. Ah, the best laid plans. No matter how hard I tried to leave it all in Indiana, education followed me.

The first time I was brought back to education-land came during our visit to the St. Louis Science Center. As my children walked around the museum I started to think, "Why don't schools set out items for students to interact with?" Museums set out objects for everyone to use without any supervision or security. Why do museums trust total strangers with their supplies but some teachers have a hard time trusting their own students?

My second trip back into education came during the surprise party. My niece is a high school student who loves art. Since I first met her (she's my brother-in-law's daughter) she has loved drawing. As she has gotten older her art work has gotten better. She is an excellent artist and she could have a bright future in art if she chooses that path. The party was held in a local mall which had seen better times. Stores were closed/shut down throughout the mall and there was little foot traffic for a Saturday night.

As the mall was closing down stores, the local high school saw an opportunity. They leased a store and turned it into an art gallery to showcase their students' art. The store's name is 'Play Your Art Out.'  Now, every day, local shoppers walk by this store and get to see the students' work on display. In these tough economic times for schools, this school district not only celebrated art, they found a way to offset the cost of leasing the store. They have an area in the back of the store where people can come and create their own artwork. All of the materials are on site and for a small fee, you can make your own piece of art and take it home.

As some schools are cutting the arts programs, this district found a way to showcase their students' talents. Not just that but they also MAKE money in the process. We could all take a lesson from this district.

Great ideas are out there, maybe we need to visit a museum or go shopping to find them.

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