SchoolArts Magazine

FEB 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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22 FEBRUARY 2019 SchoolArts P O I N T O F V I E W E mpathy is the ability to show compassion and understanding for another person's experience. In our artrooms, there are many unplanned moments of empathy that emerge during the in-between spaces of a planned lesson. But how can we create intentional opportunities to promote students' compassion for oth - ers? While teaching a course on arts integration for elementary education majors, I found that narrative strategies lend themselves to empathic growth. In one bookmaking assignment, stu - dents merge personal art-making with oral storytelling, and a series of activi - ties move students toward empathetic understanding. One student wrote, "The bookmaking project was an excellent way for us to feel vulnerable and feel each other's' feelings and inter - ests." Honoring student stories in the artroom can shape and impact students and teachers in transformative ways. Understanding the Self through Bookmaking The first step in growing empa- thetically is feeling empathy and understanding for yourself. In this assignment, students are first required to unpack a personal narrative through the process of art-making, specifically bookmaking. The process of working to visually portray their story provides them with the opportunity to reflect deeply on understanding themselves and how their stories are important in their personal narrative. Students are introduced to the evo- lution of books through history as well as contemporary bookmakers such as Julie Chen, Miriam Schaer, Barbara Tetenbaum, Alison Cook Brown, Clar - issa Sligh, and Emily Martin. A variety of bookmaking structures and formats are discussed and demonstrated such as accordion, crisscross, sewn bind, ments on the tables. I discuss the importance of creat- ing a safe place in one's classroom to feel comfortable to share both our narratives and our artwork. This Book Club Day occurs early in the semester, which allows us to get to know each other and helps us grow as a commu - nity of learners. One student wrote, "Sometimes we get caught up in our - selves, so we don't look around to oth- ers. This project allowed us to learn about everyone. It built community." Silent Reading I call the first activity we do on Book Club Day "silent reading." Students do An Exercise in Empat Nicole Romanski tunnel, star, and dragon. Students are given choice in regard to materials, subject matter, and book structure. We also brainstorm possibilities for personal narratives including childhood memories, travel stories, pivotal events, relationship stories, and professional journeys. Students often share that the book- making process helped them revisit and spend time considering the impact of the experience on their lives. One student reflected, "I think I learned about vulnerability and the power in sharing your story. I was never some - one who felt like my story had mean- ing, but this project proved me wrong." Understanding Others through Our Book Club Day Our Book Club Day is an essential component of the personal bookmak- ing experience. The core of empathy is understanding others, so on this day, we devote time to engage in vari- ous strategies to receive, share, and experience each other's stories. We set up our classroom like a gallery by placing our books and artist state- Taking time to unpack personal narratives through bookmaking and stor telling in the artroom provides an opening for our students to grow empatheticall . CONTINUED ON PAGE 46. A student's personal narrative translated through bookmaking.

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