The value of the Arts and Flat Stanley.

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Jon Stewart and Flat Stanley.

Yesterday I posted a found poem based on a reader comment to my blog, www.fredklonsky.com. 

Then Katherine Kampf, Visual Arts teacher from Chicago wrote a crazy good response in the form of a poem.

“A mic drop,” as a Facebook friend put it.

Then I received this from Kitty McGrath, a teacher I worked with for many years.

Fred,
All night, this has popped back up in mind. All night I have been thinking back to the ignorance and misinformation out there warping and misguiding the original poster’s comment. These are people who do not know and understand children, nor how they learn.
Recently I was working with a student, a sweet 3rd grade girl, but with significant reading delays. She was reading Flat Stanley, not without difficulty, but was giving the text all she had. For those familiar with Flat Stanley, they know that one of the author’s message is about kindness, and treating those with differences with compassion, big ideas in a simple novel, and this was where this girl shined. She paused here to share what she had learned in art and music about the underground railroad, through song and spirituals, through quilting and drawing, she grasped the very real devastation of slavery as well as any 8 year old could.
I’m sure she had been exposed to such ideas in class, during social studies, or by reading certain texts, but these experiences were not what left their mark. Art and music are the language this girl speaks fluently, and for her, that is where meaningful learning actually takes place.
8 year olds are not miniature college students. They learn through play, music, drawing, moving, experiencing, and experimenting.
I’ve worked with some fragile kiddos through the years, and sometimes they did the most learning when the crayons were out or when we painted. Sometimes that is when their thoughts flowed the best, and where they were finally able to share what was troubling in their lives. My little 3rd grader is not always able to articulate her thoughts about what we are reading, but you should see her drawings.
They are windows to a bright, beautiful, and intelligent mind.
-Kitty

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