Recently, I’ve been involved in a group studying Julie Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. One of the tenets of her book is writing what she calls “morning pages”–several pages of uncensored, stream of consciousness writing that is done first thing in the morning.
The idea is to clear your head of other thoughts which interfere with your creativity. She includes a number of other tasks in the book as well, and one that seems most applicable to educators is the “artist date.” The idea is to take yourself on a date somewhere to do something artful–you have to go alone, and you can’t break your date with yourself–it is something you schedule. You can go to a museum, take photographs, browse for art supplies, write in the park, but the idea is to do something relating to art.
It strikes me that this is such an excellent activity for both teachers and their students. In this age of AP testing, standardized testing, college prep, etc., both students and teachers are under much pressure and a barrage of reading/homework/grading, etc. As many of our staff and my colleagues online have commented, how do we get students to be creative or innovative when they are exhausted and overloaded?
I would posit that the same goes for us as educators.
I suggest that an artist’s date is an excellent assignment for both students and for ourselves–to carve out time for exploration and nothing else, to make it a way to treat yourself, indulge yourself in seeing the world in a different way.
When we model for students that spending time nurturing themselves isn’t frivolous or unnecessary, but that it is a key to supporting themselves intellectually and creatively, then we have done them a great favor.
Blogging, too, I believe, is enhanced by spending that time seeing in a new way. It has made such a difference to me as a photographer, for example, knowing I have an audience at flickr or that I’ll post a photograph on my blog. I think for our students, writing online for an audience also enhances their “vision” so to speak.
So I challenge you to try taking an artist’s date for yourself for the next couple of weeks. See how it feels, what it leads you to, and what it feels like to dedicate that time to yourself.