More about my approach working with children

In an EXA Kids! class the sound of the children’s feet beating down on the floor represent a transitional ritual where they move away from the conforming pressure of school/institution and begin to express more fully who they are.

can't and won't conform2

A subtle but essential benefit to this is the awakening of the creative motivation in children.

In a study of creativity by Harvard professor of psychiatry Albert Rothenberg (Creativity and Madness: New findings and Old Stereotypes., 1990), he explores the drivers of creativity. He rules out intelligence, temperament, personality type, introversion, inheritance, early environment, inspiration, obsession and mental disorder:  He maintains that, “All these may or may not be present, may contribute, may be strongly dominant, but only motivation is absolutely, across the board, present in all”.  James Hillman (The Soul’s Code, 1996) also contends that motivation is the only force present in all creative individuals; it is the image and the calling that we have within us, from birth.

In my expressive arts class I am calling the children back to their instinctive language and impulses; to their creative motivation. I am collaborating with them, while I follow and listen to the shape of their sentences, the cadence of their language, and the arc of their stories. Together we are weaving and unsnarling the tangled threads of their stories. I am in research mode too, as I carefully ask my questions and examine their responses with an open heart. I am a fellow traveler— walking beside them, admiring their courage, laughing with them and bringing my own story to the dance.

can't and won't conform1

The following core values of my expressive arts curriculum support life-long learning:

  • Be curious about our personal mythology
  • Trust and surrender to a creative process
  • Make art collaboratively
  • Face real-life situations
  • Confront and express our truth
  • Reflect with aesthetic purpose
  • Keep moving from reflection back into the process
  • Acquire new skills and have confidence in expression
  • Tend to the matters of the heart

The basic objectives of my classes for children are based on their natural drive to:

  • Be physically active and play while utilizing a discovery orientation
  • Satisfy curiosity (no matter what pre-conceived “milestone” determines development)
  • Manipulate and construct
  • Share and communicate
  • Express themselves both aesthetically, emotionally and creatively

My Expressive Arts curricula offer important opportunities for:

  • Self-expression
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Acceptance
  • Empathy

An Expressive Arts class contributes to healthy development and learning. Children exhibit cognitive changes due to participation in Expressive Arts activities. Moreover, the Expressive Arts aid both written and spoken communication and enhance social development. The arts in this way become less about skill and more about self-expression, self-regulation and inserting one’s being into the world. The class is an interactive laboratory that implicitly suggests that the children become experiential knowers. This “ability to know” is guided by an observatory attention to detail, a conscious feeling tone and an aesthetic response to others, to nature and to the environment.

movement is glue copyMy approach to learning avoids the sterility of predetermined results and is open to the unpredictable results of children’s education and research. The children are learning about how they learn, the openness that is encouraged in an expressive arts class avoids programmed schemes that define what is correct, such as testing, assessment and conformity to the norms in school cultures.

Children get to practice what original thinking feels like and looks like, without the restriction of fitting prescribed information into a predestined system. The way in which I have experienced teaching and implementing my curriculum is not an intervention remedy. This curriculum acts as a truth detector that gives way to a life force, a direction and a purpose, and, finally to embodied knowing.


Community Hand Banner 1st-2nd grade

In the community hand banner all kids draw on the same paper, simultaneously encouraging group integration while fostering individuality.







Research Study: Whole Child Left Behind