shamans effigies and an engineering nightmare Grade: D-

i started my ancient art art camp today. 7-9 year olds. we looked at art of the ancient americas in the galleries at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory. in particular the shamanistic potterys of transformative animal effigies; art that reflects the spiritual world, and the path to that realm. a favorite example in the collection is the Pataky jaguar from Costa Rica; dated centuries before the spanish arrived.

This effigy shows the shaman in a meditative pose while entering the spirit realm by transforming into the form of a jaguar...eyes wide and endlessly black represent the look into inner space and documents the dilation of pupils, a common side effect of hallucinating; a critical if not the central component of shamanistic religion. inside the jaguar effigy were small clay marbles, and when the shaman shook it; it growled with a rattle.

on the knees you will see a repeat pattern that is not jaguar spots but a pattern even more jaguar than that: many small jaguars, creating a super intense jaguar bomb of power. and not just any power but four-realm power like climbing into the trees and entering the sky realm; swimming in the water realm; being lord of all the jungle on the terra realm by day and night, and king of the spirit realm.

given the chance to merge with an animal to travel the spiritual realm what would you choose? what attributes would best serve your purposes? we discussed the merits of birds with their obvious charms, fierce meat eating animals, nimble monkeys and dolphins. we examined a praying mantis on a raised bowl, camouflaged in a swirling pattern and considered the survival strengths of various insects.

i showed them my two totems (no longer effigies because that refers to 3D objects) of the owl and the jaguar...and the moving parts on each: the 16 second video below shows what they looked like:

the kids embraced this enthusiastically and began designing their animals. critical was getting them to make the bodies big enough to attach moving parts. i had all kinds of animals from snakes (bad idea; too skinny) to porpoises (not ideal- horizontal) to birds (yay!) to bears (thank Christ!) i am a product oriented teacher, but not so much so that i insure success. meaning, if i advise you against something and you decide to ignore that advice, i let it play out. i find my advice has more value as the days pass when i do this. some kids took the advice and listened to the instructions and they had the killer final. they gleefully marched about while flapping the bat wings and big frog legs and crab claws of their newly constructed totems. sometimes right in the faces of the "strugglers". thats the jungle for you! kids are such merciless creatures. grrrrrrrrrrherhahahahaha!

i also never give false praise which really got the attention of one of my interns who is there to help me manage the personalities. example:

boy rips through the part of the process where you are supposed to cover the animal shape with surface design. he just schloked something out as quickly as he could so as to be finished and rush to the next phase.

he: is this good?

me: long pause. "i dont know. is it?"

he: shrug "i dont know"

me: well if that was mine i would fill in some of these areas solid black so its not just one big brown blob. and i cant really see the teeth cause they arent defined it all just blends together. i cant tell if he is ferocious or not. it looks a lot like you just did the fastest thing you could think of.

he: mild frown.

me: i think it could be excellent with more attention. i really do.

the intern asks about the exchange. are his feelings hurt? i tell her that even a 7 year old knows when hes just skating along and not really putting any effort into something. having seen him draw an elaborate obstacle course earlier i was confident he could do the detail surface work. and if i were to praise this thing he has made which is beneath his capabilities, then i have demonstrated that my opinion isnt worth anything. when he does something that shows real effort and thought i will praise it.
and it will mean more then. more to the point, he will learn to evaluate his own efforts better through this process.

and, if everybody gets equal praise when there is concrete evidence that contradicts giving it, then i become full of shyt. and then that takes the "glory" away from the achievers. many people believe that art should be the great equalizer where whatever is done is as good as the best thats been done. i hate that practice. everybody doesnt get to be the football star. or math wizard. you excel at art? you deserve recognition for being exceptional in that arena. i find something good to say about each childs work, but i will be very specific and honest. they learn very quickly the difference between "i like how you drew the eyes" and "this bear is awesome!"

i do get results.

however, i give myself a D- on my teaching today. when we finally got to where the moving parts of the totem had to be constructed with hole punches, paper fasteners and wire the class broke down into an anarchy of "ms. K9! ms. K9!" and "the mouth, wings, feet, arms won't work" and minor skirmishes over who would be next in line for me to fix it. when my 19 year old intern couldnt deal with the engineering of a dolphin mouth i knew the project was too hard...but on the verge of not being too hard too if 1/3 had a solid and highly individual final product. all were redeemed in the end but not without me doing some part of it and thats not good. and it was way chaotic the last 40 minutes. sword fights with rulers; a misunderstanding between girls resulting in tears; and a quiet child i autopiloted because i had fires to put out. i hate that.

later, one of the boys said: " i liked that this was kinda hard" as he slid his tiger's mouth back and forth to make him growl and bare teeth. to which his table mates replied "no you didnt!! you complained all day!" grrrrrrrherherhahaha!

tomorrow needs to go better.

*for foamy: who does this everyday IRL! *

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Blogger Anonymous Boxer said...

A+ to you for not following the whole "everyone is winner" crap that prevails in schools nowadays. HARD WORK results in winning/success, just showing up is good for overall attendance. I get so tired of honest feedback being seen as negative. Bah! How does anyone learn when everything is correct?

And hey, I learned a little bit tonight about shamanistic pottery.

What's up for tomorrow?

8:27 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

anonymous boxer: tomorrow? how about paper weaving? grrrrherhaahahaha. no tomorrow we are doing a series of large tempera paintings. my throat is sore i talked more today than i have in weeks combined.
thanks for the "A"!

8:52 PM  
Blogger ..................... said...

1. okay .. i'm stealing the lesson plan .. just thought i'd let you know .. :) i'll give you credit though. i'll say a k9 taught this ..:)

2. i've taught summer art camps before .. lol.. and whew .. hats off to you! i still could do that, but after doing it all year .. no thanks .. henceforth, my glee in reading this post.

3. i would choose a stag to travel into the spiritual realm .. that, or perhaps a lark .. (not just any ole bird for me .. it has to be a lark)

4. i've done the movable art parts before (man, can i relate to the mrs k'9's .. lol), except that for that particular week long art camp my theme revolved around space, spaceships, aliens and all that fun stuff .. (oh, man.. that brings back memories of what i refer to as the glitter chernobyl incident).
yes, and kids to tend to want to make things skinny.

5. during my observations it is always noted with a very positive note that i do not give false praise .. but that i manage to not insult the child either. and if a child persists .. i let them make their mistakes .. i tell them it's a learning experience when they realize it didn't work.

6. needless to say, i really enjoyed this post ..
and i can relate .. :)

4:48 AM  
Blogger The Troll said...

Maybe he correctly guessed that the next phase would require more time and effort, so he was demonstrating good time-management skills and foresight?

5:30 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Ho!! Sorry fer ya' Dawgie, but wow--them kiddos is gettin' the best deal of their year to git ya' fer they teacher--ain't givin' ya' no false sappy praise--them's LIFE lessons too--and dang few they be whp teach it true--then life whopps upside they haid an' they doan know why, feel cheated, and the whole ball of twine unravels. GOOD JOB K-9.

I'se an Eagle.

FOAMY, "glitter Chernobyl incident" !! LOL!!

Some years back, travelin in Czech Republic a friend warned us not to order no Poulet, since great train loads of frozen chicken had been sent by the commies to Eastern Europe, an' thar' was still some "Chernobyl chickens" bein' sold on the super cheap---unscrupulous restaurants bought them.

5:50 AM  
Blogger iamnot said...

I just realized that from 1976 to 1979 I was a Costa Rican Shaman!

I'd chose a male lion. They sleep 20 hours a day and just wake up to eat the food the famale lions bring...and to have sex. The exact opposite of my life.

BTW, you only THINNK you'd like to have S in one of those classes. That sort of thing makes him nuts. No one would have learned anything.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Hey K-9: New BACK Porch post...come kick it up a notch. (hope classes go well today. Tell us'uns all about it.)

7:23 AM  
Blogger moi said...

What AB said.

Also: One of my fave classes in skool was Pre-Columbian art. I fell in love with Olmec Jaguar Babies! But my totem animal would be an otter for sure. They bad, but cute.

Good luck today!

7:24 AM  
Anonymous fishy said...

Hey...you have any ties to the music world? Listen your stanza'
"foul architect of the national schism, that's what you call patriotism, exploiting every kind of division, lacking any original vision" just really nails it! I'm thinking this msg could become great throbbing lyrics for a very patriotic CW singer to get this awesome msg to the masses who have yet to find a voice for their thoughts. Great job!

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love to
take your class

you rock!


8:27 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

foamy: i will send you my example piece and the plan. hopefully, you can improve upon it. grrherhahaha yes your glee...my stress. last time i taught was 4 years ago and that was georgia state. they were babies, but easier to handle. and with less body fluids. im frustrated with how out of control it all is. its a miracle anything gets done. today was better. maybe even a "c"

glitter chernobyl!! LOL LOL LOL!!

i know you can relate. its why i dedicated this post to you - man there is NO WAY i could do this a full school year anymore. im a curmudgeon now and do not have the necessary temperament anymore. grrrrrrr!

1:38 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

troll: thats putting a good spin on it. no, his gig is to rush and then have nothing to do and complain about having nothing to do. we had a little heart to heart about it today since his mom was late. i hope for improvement in attitude tomorrow.

aunty: they would just like to revert back to kindergarten art where its comfortable and familiar. i did my classic if you can show me where the blue of sky ends somewhere above your head i will give you 100 dollars. destroy all memes! thats my motto

no rainbows
no apple trees
no butterflies
no hearts
no spider suns
no no no no no!
these are the themes returned to in the last 30 minutes of the day where they have "free time" to paint whatever they want.

grrrherhaha. we made an egyptian mural today it came out great. but i was on the verge of being a full tilt harpy to get it.
we also did several tempera paintings of hybrid creatures and meso american forms translated into their vernacular. it was hard to get it. i make them fill the sheet of paper solid paint - no paper can show at the end. its so hard to get it.


thanks for the support.

1:57 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

iamnot: grrrrrrherherhahahahaha! hopefully not while contained inside a submarine. youre hilarious today. great comment.

yes. S would FREAK this class is sensory overload..a train about to leave the tracks. loud messy and frazzled. and, apparently "hard" since the kids often say " i cant do that" or "its too hard"...but then i happens. they just didnt know they could do it. but it is chaotic and that is with my TWO helper interns. if i was in there alone i would sink.

2:01 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

aunty: i will be there. tonight im just visiting no posts. but i will take some photos of the mural tomorrow.

moi: otters a great choice. you'll live a merry and playful spirit life! the carlos has one olmec piece....the giant rock we call it. i saw some impressive pieces in mexico city. and after that, i went and sucked on an oxegen hose.

fishy: country and western? grrherhahahaha you can have it. send me the demo when youve finished recording. and thanks!

/t: it. is. insane. maybe i shouldnt have fired my rep. grrrrrherhahaha. thank you friend.

2:07 PM  
Blogger moi said...

Oxygen hose, bwahahaha! You see these recent commercials shilling for Mexico as a hot vay-cay spot? Okay, the COASTS! But as much as I heart Mexico, no amount of money in the world could lure me to Mexico City.

2:55 PM  
Blogger ..................... said...

lol .. poor poochy ..!

i always tell my students .. leave no white on the paper! so, i know, i know ..

4:17 PM  
Blogger The Troll said...

IamNot's comment was both true and funny. Not sure I get the shaman thing, but I'd be a bear. And I'm pretty sure bears are a popular choice for that kind of thing.

A bear shaman is ready for anything. No meat to eat, they can eat fruit and honey. They can climb and swim and run. Versatile.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

Thank you for standing against empty praise.
I know kids ... 20 years teaching so far ... and they need and deserve real evaluations, encouragement when needed, praise when earned.
Keep doing what you are doing!

On yesterday's wardog post which is still lumping my throat, check out "Always Faithfull, The Marine Dogs of World War II" sometime. It's a memoir of a Marine dog handler.

8:23 AM  
Blogger **¤ ¤** said...

this is off the subject ..
but do you know any good bbq recipes ..?
i need one that goes good with chikkin'..
i have one at my blog that i'm wanting to bbq..

6:56 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Boxer said...

Hey! Your chicken is running amok. feed that thing, will ya?

7:05 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

That pot looks like a girl I went out with once...

9:20 PM  
Blogger moi said...

Are the sproglidites exhausting you?

6:50 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

My pooch is BACK! Amen! :*) I am so excited. Sorry for being MIA, but my laptop decided its going through teenage angst and being difficult!

7 and 9 year olds? You are a saint, too, eh?

12:09 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Just tell the kid he sucks and will wind up pushing a broom, if he's lucky - might as well give him some rejection training right out of the gate. He'll thank you for it later.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Edi said...

You're such a good teacher! Love the post. I think my favorite thing in art were paintings from Georgia O'Keeffe and Salvador Dalí (although we watched a documentry made by him and that man is crazy).

Okay so I know which painting I love the most, but let me tell you why I chose it. When I was younger my mom would show me the prints that you sent us. I loooved looking at them. Then the Glenda the Good Witch one came. I still have the print. I loved that painting so much. It is and always has been my very favorite. I remember stairing at our little community newspaper trying to find something with a background like the stock market pages (of course we didn't) so I could make my own "Ande Art". I even brought ti to art class (my teacher loved your work). Anyways, I've loved your art for years and that one has a very special place in my heart and I have this dream of passing it down to my daughter if I have one someday :)

I love you Lady :)

...thank you so much...

11:07 AM  
Blogger Edith said...

Oh and PS I'm excited about Mute Mondays :)

1:13 PM  
Blogger boneman said...

since more folks come here than at my place, perhaps you'de like to help?

To Online Friends –

This is for those of you who wanted to know when my book became available for purchase – in some cases, as far back as when I was doing earlier blogs, which is why I included them in my subject line. More recently, many of you filled out the short contact form on the Original Faith blog. (A small number of you didn’t specifically ask to be contacted, but I thought the book may be of interest. And a few of you already bought the book because you caught my recent posts – thanks!)

Some of you I’ve known quite well, in some cases for years, and would have preferred sending you individual emails. I’m mostly bedridden now, so this isn’t doable.

In any case, Original Faith: Finding the Interfaith Soul of Progressive Religion and Spirituality is now available at Amazon and Target. Despite my medical problems, the book is profoundly upbeat. Most of the creative work was done while I was healthy. Facing illness and mortality has been a matter of reaffirming words that I was already living by.

I’d be seriously interested in your feedback, whether on my blog or by email. Even if I can’t respond to all emails, I’ll absolutely read everything or have someone read them to me.

If anyone would like to do any of the following, it could help generate awareness of the book, especially in my housebound situation:

Recommend Original Faith to anyone you think may be interested and send them my URL – feel free to forward or copy from this email.
Consider doing a customer review on Amazon. From Original Faith’s Amazon page, scroll down to the button under customer reviews.
You might think about copying the review onto your blog as a post that links to my site.
Or you could download my blog graphic to put on your site.
Take care, and thanks – all of you collectively and many of you individually have played a very real role in helping to keep me going.



(even if you two were at competition for the Maiden's hand for a month)
See ya!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, K?

Is that poetry bug on my back again?
I dunno....but I'm going to hit the hay and I ain't plugging back in to say left or right (left)
so, I'll be darned.
Tonight I'm anonymous.


OK, almost....

10:32 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Thought of you today when I saw an article regarding "Lupa" the Roman she-wolf. There is a scholar that believes the bronze isn't as old as it is professed to be and is actually a product of the middle ages vice ancient Rome.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Edi said...

what are the favorite trolls? Do you mean like post "i'm up" on their blog?

1:12 PM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

You'll get the hang of teaching soon, I'm sure. Besides, this young generation hasn't faced many challenges. Some things are going to be hard for them, and they'll complain simply because it doesn't come as easily as the next derivative video game. If you feel you need to improve in some areas, you're probably right. But the grade is probably much higher than a D-.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi mate, this is the canadin pharmacy you asked me about: the link

5:06 PM  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

the real world operates on merit.....every time, so why not teach it?

not everyone can be a schoolteacher either.

well done.

i love hearing that someone is aware enough to validate a seven year-old`s feelings.

there is hope yet for this place.

12:36 PM  

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