SchoolArts Magazine

October 2015

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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E D I T O R ' S L E T T E R Visit Follow me on D o you consider yourself to have a play- ful nature? I suspect many art teachers do. I think having a playful approach to both teaching and learning is best for teachers and students. Do you think a culture can have a playful nature? As I write this, I have just returned from our SchoolArts/CRIZMAC Folk Art and Culture of Oaxaca, Mexico tour, where I was reminded daily of the importance of play for both children and adults. The giant puppet you see here with me was right down the street from our hotel in front of two folk-art stores. These delightful, oversized puppets, accompanied by live or recorded music, play an important role in parades and processions, which seem to happen multiple times every day for almost any reason. During our stay, we saw parades of bicycles, parades to celebrate weddings, and parades of teachers, just to name a few. Color also plays an important role in Oax- aca. Buildings are painted bright, contrasting colors, and tropical flowers and folk art blaze vibrantly throughout the city. Balloon and toy vendors share the plaza with impromptu performances by clowns and live bands at all hours. My experiences in Oaxaca prompted me to reflect on the growing discussion in the United States about play-based art teaching and learn- ing. Research and practice are calling for such an approach to counter our test-driven educa- tional system. For example, in a joint position statement, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) support play-based teaching: Valued content is learned through investigation, play, and focused, intentional teaching. Children learn by exploring, thinking about, and inquir - ing about all sorts of phenomena. These experi- ences help children investigate "big ideas"; those that are important at any age and are connected to later learning. ( Wouldn't all students—not just young chil- dren—benefit from such an approach? Teach- ing with a playful attitude and encouraging the same in your students' approach to learning can result in so many benefits. It's a good thing. Nancy with a giant puppet in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Tom Scelza. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 3

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