Preparing Boys for Life.

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Teaching the creative process
Chris Fox, Art Department Chair

My trip to China was sponsored by three visual arts organizations. Artway is an organization of art schools with locations in Nanjing and the wider Jiangsu Province teaching both traditional Chinese and western visual art to elementary and high school students. Yuehome is an art center in Nanjing that hosts professional art exhibits and visual art classes for children and adults. Zhong Hua is also an art school with multiple locations in and around Nanjing focusing on traditional Chinese art and calligraphy instruction.

My wife Joan (also an art teacher, formerly of Haverford's Lower School) and I stayed in the home of one of the directors of Yuehome and met with a variety of artists and educators during our stay. At Artway, I spoke to a group of 40 art educators from their schools discussing how the visual arts can be leveraged to teach transferrable skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication as well as traditional visual art skills. Joan and I conducted a workshop on a second day leading Artway's department heads though a series of art project steps designed to help them understand the concepts from the previous day's presentation.

Although having to work through interpreters for much of our work, we found that using the common language of visual communication enabled working with other artists that much easier. We hope to continue our collaboration on further development of visual arts curricula, and are looking to create some joint projects with students in China and the U.S.

We then conducted four days of workshops with elementary school children at the Yuehome campus with assistance from some Zhong Hua school teachers. These workshops were designed to lead students and teachers through the creative process, developing projects with inter-disciplinary themes.

Although having to work through interpreters for much of our work, we found that using the common language of visual communication enabled working with other artists that much easier. Sometimes a quick sketch or drawn diagram was all that was necessary to communicate an idea. We also found that having to distill some complex concepts about art and education into language that interpreters could then translate was in and of itself an important learning experience for us. We hope to continue our collaboration on further development of visual arts curricula, and are looking to create some joint projects with students in China and the U.S.

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