HEATHER MOORE, Middle School Director and social studies teacher, and BEN PATRICK, Chair of the Fine Arts Department and art teacher at Vermont Commons School teamed up to create a teacher’s dream of a trip. They will tackle the age old questions of “How does art make us human?” and “Why do we create art?” by going to the birthplace of artistic expression.
MOORE AND PATRICK applied to the extremely competitive “Fund for Teachers” for a fellowship to cover expenses for travel to France and Spain this summer to study the prehistoric cave and rock paintings there. MOORE comments, “We are so excited to be able to use this trip as a springboard to create a multidisciplinary curriculum for our 8th grade students. By the second half of 8th grade, students are looking for challenges and leadership opportunities as they get ready to launch into high school. Our unit will teach the history of cave painting through project based learning, and also teach students how to mentor elementary students through a community project. Students will become experts in Paleolithic artwork and demonstrate their knowledge by becoming guides at the Smithsonian Exhibit, Exploring Human Origins: What does it Mean to Be Human? This exhibit, for which I served on the consultation panel, is coming to the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington in February 2017 – perfect timing for our unit! After students become educated in the Art, the History and the Art History of the oldest cave paintings they will create a graphic novel to share with the elementary students, learn to put together activities and talking points, and then serve as docents for elementary aged students visiting the exhibit.”
As for MOORE AND PATRICK themselves, “We are both veteran teachers,” PATRICK says. “This trip and the associated studies and curriculum development will be a wonderful opportunity to re-invigorate our practices and get our educational creative juices flowing. One of the special parts of working at Vermont Commons School is the freedom we are given to design and carry out our own curriculum. I, for one, am completely redesigning the arts curriculum over the next 6 months. It’s always good to shake things up and stretch your limits, especially in the fine arts. This trip will provide an amazing opportunity to do just that.”