The Critical Work of Teachers, as told by Vivian Paley

Vivian Gussin Paley at 92Y Wonderplay Conference 2008 (follow this link to her keynote speech)

If you are someone who cares about what goes on in schools, please watch this short keynote address by one of my education heroes, Vivian Gussin Paley. She explains the absolutely essential role of play in a child’s life and learning, illuminating the purpose and meaning of such play.

grade one, paper bag puppet with collage elements

grade one, paper bag puppet with collage elements


As art teachers, we can facilitate a child’s growth and learning through their work with materials. Children can create and act out their story through the drawing process, painting, 3-D construction, or crafting.

grade 2, collage mask

grade 2, collage mask

brooks_night painting

It is our job, as teachers, to listen to the child, make every effort to connect with every child, even the quiet, sullen, or angry ones. They want to be heard too.  Read one of Vivian Paley’s books on her work with children in the kindergarten. My favorite  is The Girl with the Brown Crayon but they are all excellent reads, taking you right inside the mind of the teacher and the life of the children. brooks_easel painting

This is it. It’s why I’m in the classroom–to honor and nurture the creative and imaginative life of every child I teach. It’s what I prioritize and foreground in my work every class period, every single day.brooks_this is for

Truly, it’s the reason I am there. Yes, I love art, the materials and processes of making and doing, and the curriculum is my guide, but my priority is the child. ~Robin Brooks



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