Place-based Art Education
Creative Connections in Rural Communities
UK Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching
University of Edinburgh
In January 2020 my family and I headed to Scotland
to live in Edinburgh while I participated in
the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching
fellowship. I was one of three lucky teachers
from the US to conduct research through
the UK Fulbright Commission. Though cut
short due to the Covid-19 crisis, my limited
time in Scotland was spent visiting schools,
museums, galleries, historic landmarks, and
natural wonders. I interviewed teachers, professors,
administrators, students, museum educators and
community members. Each encounter expanded my knowledge
and further developed my research and findings.
There are many people I’d like to thank for their support in my
fellowship and the creation of this guide.
At home in the US:
Tracy Smith, Glenn Devoti, Kerry Burke, Jeanne Lemlin, Wendy
Casey, Michelle Raszl, Stephanie Graham, Courtney English,
Victoria Aldam, Sarah Siket, James Siket, E. Bonnie Silvers, Kurt
DeGrenier, Angel Rote, Erin Graham, Andrew Graham, Curtis
Bohner, Jesse Carpenter, Peter Bohler and the staff at IREX, and
my colleagues at the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.
Abroad in the UK:
Rebecca Thurston, Ana Guerra Pereira, and the staff at the US/
UK Fulbright Commission, Teresa Pickburn, Sandra MacGregor,
Robbie Nicol, Nick Adair, Melvyn Roffe, Robin Baillie, Vaila
McLaren, Jane Kerr, John Kerr, Marina McLeod, Isobel Finnies,
Vaila McLaren, Pauline Cumming, Claire Kalambay, Elana
Eisen-Markowitz, Sarah Cowie, and to my advisor, Rowena
Arshad who made all of the Scottish connections possible and
whose support and enthusiasm were invaluable.
The author of this publication is a Fellow of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Research Program, a program
of the United States Department of State, administered by IREX. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own
and do not represent the US Department of State, the Fulbright Program, or IREX.
This resource is the product of my Fulbright DA experiences in
both Scotland and the United States.
The National Galleries of Scotland in Galashiels
Lesson: Student Museum Guides
Lesson: Intergenerational Design
Beyond the School Walls
Lesson: Priorsford Maps Peebles
Lesson: Gum-pack Photo Tour
Finding Inspiration (with photography)
Lesson: Treasured Maps
Students as Empowered Creatives
Lesson: Open-Air Exhibit
School and Student Social Enterprise
Craft and Folk Art in Place-based Pedagogy
There is no such thing as a perfect school. Educators
teaching in schools throughout the world devote their
time to improving their methods; to effectively teach
the population they are charged with. We notice trends
in deficiencies and accomplishments by country, town,
school type, and size and we use these to guide our efforts
towards improvement, innovation, and progress. Schools
are categorized in many ways – by their source of funding:
public or private; their teaching methodology: Steiner,
Montessori, comprehensive, parochial, etc.; and their
location: urban, suburban, or rural. It makes sense to
study each group individually, as the challenges are distinct
and often without comparison to their counterparts
Rural schools in the US, defined by their geographic
isolation and small population size, while challenged
by hurdles unique to each location, share one common
thing: they are called on to do far more with far less.
Despite the fact that roughly 25% of US schools are rural,
the obstacles they face are often absent from the conversation.
Rural districts face hardships stemming from
high transportation costs, limited funding, high poverty
rates, teacher shortages, and professional isolation. Many
rural districts face declining enrollment issues as the
national and international trend of declining rural populations
continues. When enrollment drives funding, the
smaller the school, the smaller the budget and the fewer
resources available for students. The arts, often being the
academic facet that is perceived as superfluous, is a sure
casualty. Within the limited body of research centered
around rural education, arts education and its impact in
rural communities is far from covered, particularly how
the two can become mutually beneficial.
The need for a strong art education presence in each
school is accepted and backed up by copious research.
What has been studied far less is the connection between
arts education and the problems many rural communities
face due to declining population. In their working
paper “Leveraging Change: Increasing Access to Arts
Education in Rural Areas,” Lisa Donovan and Maren
Brown state that “Rural communities are finding innovative
ways to use the arts to catalyze activity in rural areas,
build community, highlight community-wide issues, and
generate a sense of place.” The paper suggests that creating
arts networks, comprised of schools and community
organizations, can help to strengthen not only the arts
opportunities in the schools but serve the overall needs
of the community. Beyond networks, pedagogy can be
examined to determine which process is best to promote
a deep connection and commitment to the catalyst
of change in a community. One such methodology has
been around for some time and is gaining steam in rural
environments: place- and community-based education.
Place-based education has been embraced by some
rural communities as a way to connect students with
their local surroundings in order to help them practice
the skills necessary for global understanding and
perspective. The Center for Place-Based Learning and
Community Engagement describes the philosophy as
“an immersive learning experience that places students
in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and
experiences and uses these as a foundation for the study
of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science
and other subjects across the curriculum.” Place-based
learning offers students opportunities to feel relevant
and take ownership of their role in their communities.
This method, combined with the idea that the future of
the economy relies on students who understand innovation,
connects closely to the curriculum I have been designing
for my students since I began teaching. Lessons
that have relevance in the community, that help them
solve real-world problems and serve a goal larger than
themselves are among those that most appeal to me.
Opportunities to integrate place-based teaching into
the broader curriculum are many. Lessons within this
approach combine attributes of collaboration, the utilization
of teaching space outside of the classroom, and
the empowerment of students as connected and engaged
community change-makers. Successful place-based education
not only teaches one about the area in which they
live but establishes a relationship between student and
community. This relationship is the catalyst for change
needed in struggling rural communities.
The following guide offers options for teachers and
community organizations to utilize place-based methods
in their teaching and community experiences. The
guide offers art-related place-based lessons, ideas about
the pedagogy of place and community-based education,
museum and community organization involvement,
and ideas for students to feel as empowered community
members. These notions strive to bring education out
of the confines of the school walls and connect to the
broader population in the hopes that this engagement
will make positive change in a rural community.
Is local too limiting?
Considerations for rural schools
The focus of place-based learning for a rural school
requires broader consideration about the unique educational
needs of the students being served.
A key theme for further debate is the tension between
a locally versus a globally oriented education – does
the former risk encouraging provincialism and xenophobia?
For many school populations, a singular
focus on the immediate community risks limiting a
student’s understanding of and exposure to diversity
and global culture.
Learning opportunities should not only be diverse,
but should encourage diversity.
The following are some considerations for rural
• Where cultural diversity lacks, encourage students
to make connections to cultures other than their
own. Learning about one’s own place is made more
robust by comparing and contrasting
• Encourage bilingual learning – not only by providing
a welcoming space for English language learners
to utilize their native language, but for native English
speakers to learn another language.
• When collecting teaching resources, be sure to
represent a wide range of voices; those from diverse
races, genders, socio-economic classes, ages, etc.
• Be willing to address inequality. Remember that the
study of place should include contemporary issues
and your students should recognize their part in the
history of their community.
• Recognize any lack of diversity and use it as a discussion
point. Encourage students to take action in
ways that might improve their communities, especially
when it relates to diversity.
• Encourage students to extend the same curiosity being
used to connect with their own “place” to places
beyond their homes. Remind them that what is now
their home may one day change and one’s place may
evolve, move, or grow.
Sociology is at the heart of successful place-based
pedagogy. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise
a child” takes on more relevance when teaching and
learning enters the larger community. The idea also works
quite well in reverse. A complete place-based education
not only teaches students about their fellow past, present,
and future community members, but encourages their
engagement and commitment to the people in their
community. Utilizing a village of engaged citizens in a
collaborative spirit improves the lives of all involved. Collaboration
isn’t an easy task and relies on all stake-holders
to be fully on-board.
The following ideas provide opportunities for students to
be enriched by the people in their communities and for
the communities to be enriched by their students through
Parasites at the National Museum of Scotland was designed with help from secondary students in Scotland.
The Monarch of the Glen
(1851, Sir Edwin Landseer)
traveled to rural and remote
areas of Scotland for wide
viewing access. The important
painting traveled to
schools, prisons, and community
A substantial component of my research while in
Scotland involved seeking out and interviewing
various professionals from many arts and community
related fields. I found the people of Scotland
to be very generous with their time and was lucky
to speak with lecturers, teachers, administrators,
professors, museum educators, students, pupils, and
even strangers on the bus – all of whom offered their
own wisdom which collectively filled my Fulbright
notebook. Sarah Cowie, the Learning Officer at both
the National Museum of Scotland and National War
Museum, sat down with me to discuss her role in
community engagement for the National Museums.
Her job is to essentially get as many pupils through
the doors of the museums as possible.
The National Museum of Scotland is massive. It
houses collections ranging from dinosaurs to modern
technology, and its curated exhibits throughout the
sprawling site is truly a spectacle for the imagination.
My favorite thing about Scotland’s free national
museums and galleries is how accessible they are. My
family and I often found ourselves stopping in on a
whim to enjoy one or two exhibits as we were passing
by – the lack of commitment compared to museums
with ticket prices of $25+ is really freeing. You
will find a large diversity of visitors at the National
Museum and it would seem as though getting people
through the doors isn’t an issue at all.
Cowie’s job, however, is to see which pupils and
schools are accessing the museum and its resources
and which ones aren’t. She says that, on average,
45,000 pupils and their teachers enter the doors each
year. Of those, 1/4 enter to participate in pre-booked
workshops while the rest do self-led or teacher-led
visits. Primary students typically come in to learn
about topics relevant to their grade level, such as
Romans, Vikings, dinosaurs, or ancient Egypt, while
secondary students are typically exposed to topics
relevant to their exams, engaged in STEM research
and work with specialists and researchers. Schools
within Edinburgh typically use public transportation
to travel to the museum, however there is funding
available through various organizations that help to
alleviate any burden on parents and schools.
While the museum is well attended and schools
within Edinburgh are using its resources, connecting
with areas outside of Edinburgh is a priority for the
museum as well. I was surprised and impressed to
learn about the many creative engagement initiatives
for pupils from remote areas. Work is being done
to introduce families to the many partner museums
around the country that offer learning experiences for
school-aged children. Additionally, digital resources
such as video conferencing sessions, Google hangouts,
and educational resources via google street view are
made available to pupils and are proving successful.
The museum’s programming is proving to be innovative
in their approach to engage and connect with students.
A great example is the current special exhibit,
Parasites: Battle for Survival, an interactive, family
friendly exhibition that explores Scottish involvement
in the identification and treatment of tropical disease
and highlights the research currently taking place
in Scotland. With a view to engage young visitors in
STEM subjects, the exhibition’s creators have collaborated
with secondary school pupils to trial designs,
games and text. I find this to be a genius approach to
community and school engagement as I see no better
way to connect with pupils than to trust them with
the involvement and design of the exhibit itself.
Museums in rural areas typically do not have the
funding that national museums have, however their
location and intimacy provide ample opportunity for
collaboration. With support and commitment, rural
museums and the community they serve can work
together for shared positive outcomes. Collaborating
with museums is a huge resource for place-based
education and should be explored by schools and
museum administration alike.
General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo
Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799
(1839) Sir David Wilkie
Border Reiver statue by Thomas J Clapperton and young person
posing for a photograph meant to alter the storyline.
The National Galleries of
Scotland in Galashiels
I met Robin Baillie, senior outreach officer for the
National Galleries of Scotland, at the Portrait Gallery and
was thrilled to learn about the work he does to support
the population outside of Edinburgh. Robin is truly the
poster child for museum education and community
outreach. He explained some of his prior work at the
Galleries, including community art-making exhibitions,
film-making, and a multitude of projects that encourage
people to tell their stories and connect with their environments
and localities. Robin is someone who works
tirelessly to ensure that rural populations are engaged
with the work in the National Galleries, and I found it
inspiring to tag along on one of his current projects with
an organization called Works+ in town of Galashiels.
Works+ consists of Grant Pringle, Scott Wright, and
Mark Timmis – three individuals who are working diligently
to provide opportunities for young people who
have not experienced typical academic or vocational
success at this stage of their lives. The Works+ website
describes their process:
We aim to get each young person into employment
appropriate to their skills and attributes, or
back into education to complete their learning
and enhance their qualifications, or into training
which develops new skills and confidence to
enter the employment market.
Their program consists of 10-week projects with participants
drawn across the Scottish Borders. Young people
experience increased confidence, improved social skills,
and an increased sense of general wellbeing. They
complete the programs more able to find and sustain
employment, further education or training. Mark states
eloquently that their purpose is not to create a CV
and resume, usher them to an interview and then pat
themselves on the back. Their goal is to “fill the young
people’s vessels” by providing real experiences for them
to draw upon. They take the participants out of their
perceived confines – they plant trees, scale mountains,
create sand paintings on the beach, practice interview
methods using robot design – all with the intention of
encouraging them to feel accomplishment and pride.
It’s all about letting young people succeed at
things. Art helps to celebrate success. They
create a piece. It stands. It is. It comes to an end.
It can be put up on a wall and people can have a
conversation about it. There’s a reaction to it.
These pivotal experiences spark the confidence and
motivation to further one’s education or career. Their
methods are a shining example of holistic teaching – it
is clear that these educators care deeply for the young
people they work with.
After chatting with Mark about the great work they
are doing at Works+, I caught the tail end of Robin’s
discussion with the participants about a National
Galleries painting, General Sir David Baird Discovering
the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured
Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799. Robin and the
group discussed the historical relevance of the painting
and how every conflict has two sides to the story. The
impassioned group used their discussion points to draw
parallels to local historical stories.
The group descended upon the center of Galashiels to
create a photograph with this concept in mind. They
chose the Border Reiver statue by Thomas J Clapperton
as their subject matter (Clapperton is the sculptor who
created the familiar Robert the Bruce sculpture at Edinburgh
Castle). They discussed the story of these raiders
and how, again, there may be many voices unheard in
the telling of history. Young people mounted a carved
pistol onto a long stake and positioned it in various
ways to alter the story of the sculpted rider. Out of the
three participants that day, only one had an interest in
art, however all were engaged and willing to collaborate
in their own ways. I was surprised at the level of commitment
and willingness to step outside of their comfort
zones. It isn’t easy to create a piece of conceptual art in
the center of a town, especially for a young person with
little art training. I left Galashiels feeling utmost respect
for Robin and the guys at Works+ and was so grateful
to see a prime example of place-based education and
Projects like this are the reason that Works+ can boast
a significantly higher success rate compared to other
programs with the same goals. While the ultimate goal
of Works+ is to carve a path to success for the young
people, Robin’s motivations go deeper than that. He
states that he does not like the phrase “Make a difference”
but that is exactly what he is doing. I’d like to
think that most museum educators regularly drive an
hour to deliver a university lecture on art history and
a guided art-making tour to three youths from a rural
area, but I know that just isn’t the case.
Robin’s work bridges the gap between community
member and museum visitor and lets a young person
from a rural area know that the work in a museum is
indeed for them, not just for a wealthy art patron from
the city. He understands the value of art in a person’s life
and believes in its ability to inspire, motivate, and create
joy. Robin’s work with these young people will stay in
my memory for some time and I will continue to be
inspired and motivated by it.
STUDENT MUSEUM GUIDES
Digital Didactic placards
Group: Secondary or Primary
Museum exhibitions are very carefully and thoughtfully
designed. Their placement, the flow of imagery, the displays – all
curated to engage and invite. One can stop at any piece within a
collection and learn fundamental information from the museum
placard. This trivia introduces the viewer to the topic, offers a
brief description and invokes curiosity. Seeing that many permanent
museum exhibits introduce the same topics that school
pupils study in their academics, I wonder how we could be
utilizing our primary pupil’s connection to the material in a way
that is immersive and participatory.
To connect students who are educated in remote areas with the artifacts
and artwork found in museums. To encourage students to be engaged
with the content in museums and to feel a sense of ownership for their
part in the museum’s mission.
• Choose a topic relevant to academic studies which connects with content
found in museum
• Work with museum professionals to establish key facts that might be
presented on a didactic placard about an exhibition
• Become live or recorded museum guides through the use of an iPad or
video device in order to introduce key facts about display to museum
How can schools work with
museums to engage students who
live in remote areas?
Historic Environment Scotland,
the lead public body set up to
investigate, care for and promote
Scotland’s historic environment
carried out a very successful
project that follows this exact
Museum educator and class teacher will work together to choose a museum
exhibit which relates to a topic of study within the school curriculum.
Students will learn about the exhibit and discuss what museum visitors
might be curious about as they are viewing. The class will formulate
questions and answers related to the topic and exhibit.
Students will work with museum staff to become remote museum exhibition
There are many options to carry out this task; some might include:
Video Guides - Students record a video that explains the exhibit to viewers.
This video might be presented alongside the exhibition on a tablet.
Remote Scheduled Digital Guides - Students establish a time/day to be
remotely present for museum visitors to ask questions. For instance, for
a half-hour on a Friday afternoon, a tablet is available next to the display
for visitors to seek answers to formulated questions. Students are ready to
answer during this time period.
Students should prepare their information in multiple languages giving
consideration to the diversity of museum patrons.
The Doune Castle Junior Guides will
take you on a tour of the castle, bringing
it to life with stories from the past.
A Consideration for Rural Museums
• A museum patron enters the section of a museum
devoted to Vikings. She views the first relics and wishes
to learn a bit more about what he is experiencing. She
wonders what era the pieces are from, what their purpose
was, and a bit about the history of the people who
• In a remote school miles away, primary students are
learning about Vikings in their class. Their teacher has
equipped them with information, stories, and trivia that
they eagerly take home to share with their parents.
• The museum works closely with the remote school to
curate a specific time that the students can be available
to teach museum patrons about Vikings. Using video
conferencing, students in the class become live digital
iPad with students as guides for museum exhibition.
museum guides, explaining the current exhibit to the
• The students are invested in the content and feel empowered
as involved collaborators: true community
connection and engagement.
The level of engagement can be designed to meet the
needs of the museum and class. Perhaps one half hour a
week would be devoted to a live video conference available
at the museum on a tablet, or perhaps the students
record video snippets to be played at any time.
There are multiple opportunities to carry out a very simple,
yet effective idea. Get the young learners involved in
the process, they will feel invested and connected. Simple.
Industrial Design - Collaborative Design
Work collaboratively with senior citizens to design products which improve the
daily tasks of elderly people.
• Use exercises in empathy to establish a base understanding of how peoples’ abilities
• Collaborate with senior citizens and use discussion to learn about their daily
• Collaboratively brainstorm ideas for products which solve the discussed problems.
• Sketch ideas, create models and prototypes
Students are introduced to the assignment by being guided through empathy exercises.
Classmates exchange shoes, wear foggy safety goggles, gloves with Popsicle
sticks taped to the thumb portion to limit use of hands and ear plugs in order
to understand what it is like to live with impairments. The class discusses what
they assume common ailments of the aging population might be.
The class travels to the local senior center to meet with a group of seniors who
have been introduced to the project separately. The groups are involved in social
Each senior citizen is paired with one or two students to begin a guided discussion.
Students prepare interview questions before the meeting to determine what
issues the seniors might face on a daily basis.
The pairs go through the design process to brainstorm products to aid in the
problems that were discussed.
Students create sketches of the products and present their ideas to the seniors. Once the
groups have decided which product would be most suitable, a model and/or prototype
Students present the final design to the entire group and seek feedback.
The project can be completed in any time-frame, however 2 weeks is advised
depending on travel arrangements to and from the senior centers.
Group: Secondary (can be adapted for primary)
How can students use empathy
to strengthen their
How does collaboration
strengthen the design
What products can be designed
to improve the daily
tasks of senior citizens?
Read: This article from Fast
Image Search: examples
of industrial design that
would be appealing to your
My rural school is less than 5 miles from our local senior
center. This allows for easy intergenerational collaboration.
This design project took place over 2-3 weeks and
proved to be a success for both the students and the older
The goal of the project was to learn how to work with a
client of a different age to either redesign a product or come
up with a whole new solution to a problem that the person
has with a product that is used on a daily basis. The students
had been practicing the design process throughout
the semester long class to come up with solutions to their
own design problems. Up until the intergenerational collaboration,
they were only expected to design for themselves
or for imaginary clients. The thought of a real client was
daunting, and the fact that the client would be an elderly
person who wasn’t their grandparent, frightened them.
I knew it was important for the students to gain some
empathy towards elderly people or people with disabilities
in order for a successful collaboration. Before they
met with the members of the senior center we took a class
period to discuss products geared toward the elderly. We
discussed walkers and how people often put tennis balls
on the bottoms to improve the design. The class enjoyed
talking about cell phones and how their own grandparents
have a hard time using the phones that are even marketed
for an older age group. After sensing the hesitation to work
with the seniors I allowed them to experience a generic
version of some of the problems that elderly people face.
The students wore foam ear plugs, fogged safety goggles,
and a contraption on their hands that limited the use of
their thumbs, made out of gloves and Popsicle sticks. They
even exchanged shoes with a classmate and were asked to
keep their backs at an angle as they walked. Although the
exercise was a fun way of explaining my point, the students
understood that menial tasks become very difficult with
even small impairments.
During their meeting, planned interviews were conducted
between the students and adults and the groups cleverly
came up with the design problem that they wished to work
on together. One group set out to take on the problem of
using a walking cane in slippery weather conditions while
another group tackled the small tag on a plastic milk container
that one pulls on to open a new bottle. The students
asked specific questions about the complications that the
adults had with these products and came up with a broad
design problem instead of a limiting redesign option. They
thought about many possible solutions to their initial specific
problem as well as solutions to other problems that came
about through the design process. The interactions between
the different generations were interesting to observe. Many
of the adults were asking for advice from the teenagers and at
the same time keeping them focused and on task.
When the brainstorming was completed, the students
worked on two dimensional models of their design ideas
and presented them to the adults. The entire group came
together to analyze the designs and make sure that every
possible problem was thought of. The students were then
asked to create a model or working prototype depending
on the product. One group was able to design and create a
glove for a senior with severe disabilities that affected the
mobility in his hands. The glove had Velcro fixed in targeted
locations and matched on several accessories such
as a paintbrush, toothbrush, and eating utensils. The glove
allowed the user to attach the accessories so that when hand
fatigue set in, the utensil wouldn’t fall to the ground.
Although some groups were not able to create working
prototypes, the project proved to be a success in many
ways. The adults had a vehicle for voicing the problems
that they face on a daily basis and were able to feel as
though the students cared about the products that were
being sold to them. The students gained an appreciation
for the simple things that they take for granted in their
daily endeavors. One student remarked, “I don’t spend
a lot of time with my grandparents so when I thought
about problems that elderly people have I figured it really
wasn’t a big deal. After talking with my group member
and seeing how he struggles with simple tasks, I now
appreciate the difficulties that exist.”
This project offers intergenerational collaboration; something
that typically doesn’t happen naturally. Place-based schools
can and should consider intergenerational collaboration to
be the norm and not the exception in curriculum design.
The ClearRx prescription system. AP PHOTO/GREGORY BULL
Beyond the School Walls
Classroom teachers do the best they can, often using their
own funds, to create a space that is welcoming, nurturing
and conducive to learning. While each teacher has her
own idea of what an effective classroom looks like, many
teachers forget that the classroom need not be limited to
the room within the school’s walls. In Scotland, outdoor
education has really gained steam and schools are doing a
good job getting the students outdoors as much as possible.
There can be a common misconception as to what outdoor
education entails. For some, merely recreating the indoor
classroom outside of the school is the approach taken while
others go far beyond this idea to use place, it’s geology,
geography, and history as a learning tool in itself.
Successful place-based education utilizes a wide variety of
learning spaces and integrates these spaces into the process
with relevance. The following idea and lessons encourage
teachers to look beyond the classroom walls for inspiration,
connection and practical learning environments.
Outdoor Education is not just merely creating a classroom outside of school walls.
In 8 th grade, I along with my classmates had the opportunity
to apply for Project Adventure, a program that
would begin as we entered high school the following
year. My sister had been a part of the program during
her freshman year and since I did everything she did, I
applied and was also accepted.
The Project Adventure team consisted of a small group
of teachers who curated their academic courses in line
with the program ideals. Students represented a portion
of the 9th grade population and went through their
schedule as a cohort. Though our curriculum prepared
us for the NYS Regents exams, it had a heavy project-based
focus and was the perfect example of outof-the-box
learning. If alumni opinion of the program
serves as any indicator, Project Adventure proved to be
very successful, meaningful, and memorable.
Project Adventure, Inc. advertises multiple programs for
youth, college/universities, sports teams, & professionals
on their website however none of these descriptions
match my memory of what it looked like in1996 at Roy C.
Ketcham High School. In essence, Project Adventure was
an interdisciplinary, project-based program that encouraged
risk-taking, cooperation, team work, self esteem,
trust-development, and leadership all while aiming to
instill a sense of adventure. More so than that, it was an
early example of place-based, outdoor learning that provided
a solid balance between an innovative curriculum
and one designed for standardized examinations.
As I’ve been moving deeper into the world of placebased
education, I realize that I have a solid understanding
of its efficacy rooted deep in my own memory. My
9th grade teachers were masters in establishing a connection
to place and using it to engage students and empower
leadership and curiosity. Project Adventure took
us swimming in caves, mining for gypsum, hiking our
local mountains, writing poetry on the Hudson River,
kayaking and testing water, learning about our local social
history, learning about our ancestors, cross country
skiing, climbing ropes courses, and these are only some
of the lessons that occurred outside of class.
I am so grateful to have had teachers who were willing
to make relevant, engaging connections to questions
found on exams and truly feel as though I would not be
the person I am today if I hadn’t participated in Project
Adventure. In asking my old classmates what their memories
of Project Adventure are, one, a current middle
school teacher, replied, “I feel like teachers today couldn’t
get away with half the fun stuff they let us do then!!!” It is
sad and disheartening to know that in most schools, this
is true. I do, however notice a trend of the acceptance and
acknowledgment of outdoor education’s value. In Scotland,
environmental, outdoor education is buzzing and
educators are keen to not only teach in one’s local environment
but to teach about one’s local environment. My
hope is that this trend continues and educators in schools
that haven’t already done so, follow suit.
Priorsford Maps Peebles
Priorsford Primary is a small school in the Scottish
Borders - about 30 miles south of Edinburgh. Though it
wouldn’t be considered rural by most definitions, there
is a strong community presence at the school that one
would typically find in a more remote location. When
you enter the school, you notice the strong sense of
camaraderie right away. This congeniality is important
in a school like Priorsford since working together is
integral to providing robust opportunities for the students.
Despite being in a semi-affluent area, Priorsford
does not employ an art specialist. Pupils at Priorsford
rely on their primary classroom teacher to integrate art
into their learning as best they can. Strong leadership
and visionary qualities of the head teacher encourage
teacher collaboration to make use of each faculty member’s
strengths. In this way, P4 teacher Teresa Pickburn,
a classroom teacher who excels in the arts does her best
to help out teachers who are less comfortable with art
as best she can. Working with Teresa was a good fit for
my residency and I was pleased that our initial meeting
ended with the decision to collaborate on a project.
With a request to fill a large space on the wall with a
mural, Ms. Pickburn designed a gridded illustration of
Peeble’s landmarks that would display all of the places
the children connect with regularly, including the town
swimming pool, the local parks, and the river that runs
through it all. She and her class explored the town’s landmarks
via photographs and discussion when a scheduled
walk through the town was thwarted by a winter storm.
Pupils used photographs to guide their drawings and
they each chose a landmark that they connected most
with. While the illustrated components of our wall mural
were in the works, small groups of students ventured
into the town to photograph details of these landmarks.
These could encompass any bit of interest that captured
the pupil’s attention. For example, the stone work that
made up the castle or the residents of the nursing home
whom the children read to each Friday. The photographs
were used as additional details in the final map in the
way of flaps and pop-ups and added an interactive quality
to the two dimensional work.
For a project like this to be truly place-based it relies on
the teacher and students to be immersed in the location
that they are illustrating. Merely drawing a building
doesn’t offer an avenue for engagement or connection. It
is through the discussion, encouraged curiosity, exploration
of details, and shared stories that the students begin
to feel connected with the map they are creating for their
own small town.
Finding inspiration (with photography)
GUM-PACK PHOTO TOUR
Photography - Documenting Place
To create a collection of photographs that describe the essence of a place and to
encourage community participation/discussion about the location.
• Photograph objects, buildings, people, landscapes, and scenes within a chosen
• Curate the photographs into a “gum pack” display, printing the photographs on
paper the size of a stick of gum.
• Seek community input about each photograph as written word and include the
writing in the display.
To begin the assignment, the class will discuss how each of us might view our
hometowns differently and how photography allows the artist to capture a scene
through their own unique perspectives.
Students will be given an out-of-class assignment to photograph a location of
their choosing. They should be encouraged to photograph any details they are interested
in or curious about. They can be people, objects, buildings, landscapes, etc.
The photographs will be collected for public viewing.
Students should seek information about each photograph from friends, teachers,
community members, family, and strangers. This may be done by exhibiting the
photographs in print form or by setting up a shareable community website to
contribute thoughts about the photographs.
Community-sourced submissions can be done using website such as the one
described here: https://www.karigiordano.com/post/crowd-sourced-community-history-archive
Printing photographs small allows for more printing options at a reasonable
cost. A pack of gum is often shared; be it with friends or strangers and connotes
Group: Secondary (can be adapted for primary)
In the age of social media
and instant social review of
images, how can students
encourage deep connection
to a photograph and to the
people who view it.
inkjet or laserjet printer
pen or marker
To encourage diversity in
your submissions, students
should share bilingual
instructions about how to
submit one’s thoughts about
any relevant photograph.
Students should seek out
submissions from all parts
of the community, not
just those which are most
All written contributions
will be compiled and
exhibited along with the
photographs. The collaborative
prints/writing will be
packaged and shared as the
The last time I lived in a city I was in art school, had
no need for reading glasses and wasn’t yet a mother.
Life looked very different. I have been living in rural
Western Massachusetts since then and have gotten
accustomed to life in the Berkshires. I appreciate a
lot of things about where I live: the natural beauty,
the familial surroundings and the lack of traffic from
Monday through Thursday. I have a neighbor who
uses his snow blower to help us out of our driveway
in storms and in turn we bake him cookies. The
towns that surround me are quaint and there are a
lot of good people there. In the school that I teach in,
many of my students have been together in the same
building since they were 2 months old and they will
stay together, in the same building until they graduate.
Their experience in school, like in the towns they
are growing up in is starkly different than their peers
living in other areas. Living in a rural town inherently
means one is exposed to less. Quite literally, the daily
visual stimuli is considerably reduced, for better or
worse (depending on who you ask).
Even after a short amount of time temporarily living
in Edinburgh, I feel the intense difference
between living in an urban area and living in the
Berkshires. Like my previous experience living in
a city, I walked everywhere in Edinburgh. I had
replaced my 35 minute drive to work (45+ during
tourist season) with a brisk 15 minute trek to drop
the children off and another mile or so to my office
or meeting space. During these walks I listened to
TED talks or audio books or took my headphones
off to hear conversations around me. I looked up
at the architecture, considered the thousands of
restaurants, and avoided being hit by buses. My
eyes were never not moving around, searching
for something new to see and my imagination is
working right alongside them making up stories
or creating a history of the scene laying before me.
An abandoned glove might become a story about
a restless dog owner who in taking his glove off to
dispose of his dog’s leavings let it fall to the ground
as the dog pulled him along to chase after a beautiful
looking poodle. There was inspiration all
around me all of the time. If I had an open schedule
I could drop into a museum (which were mostly all
free of charge) or check out a centuries-old building,
or greet a stranger at a crosswalk. The daily
commute alone was a shining example of the world
of difference in living in a rural vs. urban area.
Though my ride to work at home is often beautiful,
it is relatively the same each day. Sometimes the fog
would drift in and the small mountains would look
rather majestic, but it is a scene I have witnessed
many times in the past 14 years. There’s a monotony
to rural life that although often welcomed (and
romanticized by movies about people leaving the big
city and finding love in the simple life) can be a limiting
factor to what one is exposed to. Like my drive to
work, students ride on buses or cars on the same few
roads each day. They view beautiful landscapes or visions
of quaint town life through the blur of a moving
window. I believe it to be quite a challenge to notice
and appreciate subtly inspiring details of a voyage
while moving 40 miles per hour. So I dare to suggest
that students in rural areas, or at the very least, students
who live in non-walkable areas are exposed to
less stimuli and thus less creative motivation.
Teaching art (or any subject) in rural communities
bears the additional responsibility of guiding students
through the process of finding inspiration in the most
cleverly hidden spots. Visual stimulation is far more
limited in the country and students might have to work a
little harder to break the monotony of rural living.
Map Design from a local’s perspective
Group: Secondary or Primary
To design a map from a local’s perspective designed to curate information typically
not found on a traditional tourism map.
• Analyze maps and their varying form and functions.
• Choose a local place and design a map for a chosen purpose: i.e. to
introduce a local’s perspective, to curate a treasure hunt, to outline hidden
• Produce and share their map with the community.
To being the project, the class will look at images of artist maps. These maps
should vary in their form and function. Many artist maps can be found with a
simple internet search or use the link to the right.
Following this discussion, students will find examples of different types of
maps that can be found in their hometowns and discuss simple questions
about them: What are they used for? Who uses them? What might be missing?
Students will then choose a location (a full town, a specific neighborhood,
street, etc) and make a list of what is known about that place, what is special?
This list will help them to decide what function their maps should have.
Students will design and create a map with a specific intention and practical
To do so, the class will be guided through vector image-making tools in Adobe
Illustrator or illustration techniques using drawing or painting mediums.
A sample of options for map applications:
– Treasure hunt or scavenger hunt: help tourists to find hidden spots, street art,
the best food, places to spread cheer, the cutest pets, etc.
– Map created to remind bored rural teenagers what there is to do in town
(sometimes they forget)
– Mapped locations of a community members’ most memorable moments
– Map showing a full cardiovascular work-out with strength-training options.
How do map designers curate
information and locations in
their designs, specifically intended
How can the visual language
of a map be used for a different
artistic function than it is
This project can be created using
or by using industry standard
graphic design software such
as Adobe Illustrator
Students will view maps created
by artists found online
as well as maps found in their
own home towns.
Some maps found here:
Students might be inspired
by photographs of the places
they choose as well as internet
A map of smells in New York by Kate McLean
An English graphic designer McLean has focused her passion for cartography on making sensory maps, charting the dynamics
of what we smell, and to a lesser extent, touch, taste, and see. McLean uses various visualization formats to map her
data, which she gathers alone or with the help of collaborators.
Close-up of “London”
by Gareth Wood aka Fuller
Fuller drafts impressionistic
“mind maps” of places where
he has lived. “I’m making a
collection of cartographic love
letters,” he says. This hyper-detailed,
ink-drawn map is of
central London. It contains the
personal experiences of the
artist, hidden stories, curiosities
and factoids. The piece
was started in 2005, archived
in 2007, and drawing resumed
in 2015. This jump creates a
change in style and technique.
It highlights the progress within
the metropolis and the artist
Students as Empowered Creatives
Many struggling rural communities face the fact that they
are educating children who may not be able to nor want to
stay in the towns of which they were raised. In some cases,
the price of home-ownership does not meet the average
wage expectations or the market may not support a wide
variety of industrial jobs. For others, their small town
might not offer enough in terms of recreation and cultural
offerings. For whatever reason, rural areas are experiencing
a decline in the population of young citizens which
has many negative effects. Family-owned businesses aren’t
able to continue on, schools close, cultural institutions
aren’t sustainable, and the aging population creates an
imbalance of cultural offerings.
Schools in these areas have an added challenge: to empower
students to be as community-minded as they
would expect their parents and grandparents to be. Placebased
education provides the platform for students to
create the progress they wish to see. Many rural students
complain about limited recreational offerings or of their
feeling that cultural institutions aren’t inviting to youth
or don’t provide offerings which speak to their age and
interests. These place-based ideas encourage students to
take on the role of community creative and to ensure that
the recreational opportunities speaks to them.
David Sobel and Gregory Smith discuss place and community
based education in their writing and state, “No
school should be an island, but rather a peninsula – off to
itself a bit, but connected to the wider worlds of first the
community, then the region, the state, and finally the big
wide world.” They suggest that in an era where screens
have taken up the focus of communication, place and
community-based education teaches students how to
reconnect with their communities in meaningful ways.
This connection is the driving force of why place-based
education can be the method used to employ change in
struggling rural communities. Students who are better
connected with their communities become engaged in
With the right tools and leadership, an engaged student
can feel empowered to create change and become a force
within a community of any size.
Pop Up Experiences
The Color Factory
Color Factory is a collaborative interactive exhibit
that debuted in San Francisco in August 2017. What
was intended as a month-long run unexpectedly
flourished as a celebration of color and creativity
that lasted for another eight sold-out months.
Flash Mob - Improv Everywhere
On a cold Saturday in New York City, the world’s
largest train terminal came to a sudden halt. Over
200 Improv Everywhere Agents froze in place at
the exact same second for five minutes in the Main
Concourse of Grand Central Terminal.
Pop-Up Art Experiences have gained a lot
of momentum and attention in the past 10
years. They are sporadic, spontaneous and
regarded as a new expression of connectivity,
especially for a younger audience. These outlets
for displaying and performing work are
a great way for students to become creative
pioneers in their own communities.
The process is simple, yet a lot of effort is
required to achieve success. Many online
sources list the steps to curate a pop-up and I
have outlined them here:
1. Create a concept
Students may wish to showcase the work they have
been doing in class or they may wish to create a thematic
instillation. They should consider the desired
location and audience in their planning.
2. Negotiate Space
Venue owners with vacant spaces are typically very
receptive to working out favorable rents and terms for
pop-up art galleries and shops. After all, the space is
not currently bringing in any money, and a pop-up
event often showcases the space well, which can help
the landlord attract a permanent tenant.
3. Install Work
4. Promote, Celebrate, and Enjoy
Pop-Up exhibit of lost and found items.
Monica Bill Barnes & Company
has re-imagined the museum tour,
creating a physical way for audiences
to relate to the finest art in the
world. Participants join the company
in the early morning, before
public hours, traveling through
the museum, performing choreographed
exercises in the galleries.
The Museum Workout disrupts the
normally contained museum environment,
by creating a physical relationship
to the art of the ages.
OPEN AIR EXHIBIT
Open air art exhibit - Non-political lawn signs
To encourage art exhibition locations that are unexpected and offer connection
• Consider typical use of a lawn sign and how its use is primarily for political
or commercial advertising.
• Discuss how connotation of an object that is typically used for one
purpose might affect initial reactions when the function is changed. i.e.
when a lawn sign is no longer used for political purposes.
• Create a painting intended for a group exhibit in a location of the class’
• Install exhibit
Activities/Sequence: The class will discuss art exhibitions and how viewers
place value on the art that they see based on where they are seeing it.
How does a viewer react to a piece of art that they view in a gallery vs. one
they view on the street?
The class will discuss alternative ways to exhibit art so that it might accessibly
and easily be viewed by community members. Outdoor exhibits will
be discussed as an option and the teacher will encourage students to think
about how this approach might help community connect with student art.
Students will discuss outdoor art exhibits and the fact that many are
sculptural work meant to withstand the elements. They will challenge
their ideas of how long a piece of art should last and consider how it might
deteriorate if left outside.
The class will discuss theme ideas for a group exhibit as well as location choices.
They will be asked how their theme choice might change based on the
location of installation.
Students will use acrylic paint to create their individual pieces on the front
and/or back of a piece of corrugated plastic.
Care will be taken to install the metal stakes into the plastic and then into
the ground. Students will participate in the design of the exhibition.
Group: Secondary or Primary
Must art be viewed only in a gallery
or museum for it to be considered
How does the reaction to an object
typically intended for commercial use
change when used for something else?
acrylic paint and brushes
corrugated plastic boards
lawn sign stakes or stands
Health and Safety:
Take care in using metal lawn stakes
as they can be sharp
Consider upcoming weather in planning
installation dates. The acrylic
paint can handle a fair amount of rain
and snow, but the lawn signs do not
Students will analyze and discuss
work of relevant nature
Outdoor Exhibits: Storm King - Hudson
Street Artists: Shepard Fairey, Banksy
Jennifer Bolande: creates billboards
showing the scenes that are being
For many students, the cycle of art class is thus: 1. learn
about art, 2. make art, 3. look at art on wall, 4. repeat.
Student work adorns the walls of every school, a silent
rebellion from art teachers breaking supercilious fire
codes. Students, teachers, and occasional school visitors
view the artwork for a short time before it comes down
to be replaced by another batch of student work. Displaying
work is an important part of a student’s art education.
It promotes a sense of pride in one’s work and
provides an important motivational tool. It also serves
as an avenue for art appreciation, visual inspiration, and
constructive criticism for art students and the entire
school community. In essence, a blank school wall begs
to be decorated with student creativity and expression.
It is an expectation and a norm. Student art, however,
begs to break the boundaries of the institutions they
were created within.
Many artists cleverly explore exhibition options that
break the monotony of the museum or gallery wall.
Street artists have notoriously used any spot that suits
them for their work. Arguably the most well-known
street artist, Banksy has created his work on streets
around the world including on Israel’s highly controversial
West Bank barrier.
Artists such as Jennifer Bolande create artwork which are
only displayed in creative locations but utilize innovative
materials as well. Bolande designs billboards which display
imagery of the very scene that the billboard hides.
Her approach not only beautifies an area meant for advertising
but it makes one question their notion of where art
should and shouldn’t be found.
Similar to billboards, lawn signs are commonly known to
communicate political candidates or are used in general
advertising. Around election time, lawn signs might serve
as a flag of sorts, with people posting their allegiance to
political affiliations. So what happens when a medium
known to others for one purpose in a completely different
way? What happens, for instance, if work that is typically
found on the wall of a school is suddenly discovered
pitched into the ground in an outdoor exhibit?
Lawn signs, being mere pieces of corrugated plastic
connected to the earth with a wire stake are the perfect
canvas for a temporary outdoor exhibit of student work.
Before even creating their paintings students might consider
the medium and how a viewer’s connotation of a
lawn sign might affect their impression of the final piece.
Placed together, a group of painted lawn signs creates a
perfectly curated art exhibit and the best part is that they
can be placed anywhere there is earth.
Banksy, West Bank barrier mural
Jennifer Bolande, Visible Distance / Second
Sight, 2017. Site specific project, produced
by Desert X, in Palm Springs, CA
SCHOOL AND STUDENT SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
A successful school and student social enterprise engages and empowers students to be effective change-makers within
their community and offers an opportunity to learn the many skills that go along with entrepreneurship.
Social enterprise in schools are often groups of students working together to create a business which aims to tackle a
• Run a café and use the profits to buy food for a homeless shelter
• Make products using ethical materials and use the profits to support a community project
• Reuse and sell old prom dresses to raise money for people who can’t afford such luxuries
• Create and sell ceramic bowls to raise money for food shelters
• Write, design, and sell a magazine to raise funds for literacy
• Establish an after-school knitting club to help isolated elderly people connect with others
• Design and program computer games and sell tickets to arcades to raise money for community technology
• Photograph families and sell prints to raise money for homelessness
There is a wealth of information about creating social enterprises with students
online and I have included an in-depth resource below.
Full Resource Guide Available:
The British Council, Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and Social Enterprise
Academy (SEA) have teamed up to launch Social Enterprise in Schools, a
resource pack helping teachers to deliver activities and lessons on social
Mount Everett High School’s Culinary Program
Broughton High School
is an urban secondary
school in the north
I learned about
staff members about
the place-based learning
that is happening at the
school. They were excited to share that students
are not only working together through service-oriented
learning but they are providing experiences for community
BRO Enterprise is a co-curricular student organization,
social enterprise and cooperative. The enterprise aims to
look at ways to tackle social isolation and loneliness in the
community by bringing people together to enjoy a cup of
tea and a cake, and to have fun together through crafts and
interactive reading activities The group curates Friday afternoon
cafés and “bookbairnes” open to the public. Running
on a monthly schedule, students offer homemade/homegrown
food and products based on a theme or topic. One
such theme described to me included nature-inspired food
and products utilizing plants grown in the school’s garden.
[Broughton’s garden is also well-used within the curriculum by
a large population of teachers. The school employs a part time
gardener which helps to ensure the successful implementation of
this learning tool.]
Through BRO Enterprise, learners have real opportunities
to become effective contributors and responsible, caring
citizens who feel empowered to bring about change
within their community. Students are developing skills
for work and life in addition to building confidence and
creativity. They plan and lead the interactive workshops,
create the activities and resources, and manage the running
of the café.
BRO Enterprise utilizes resources from Social Enterprise
Academy, a society which combines economic activity
with community benefit, led by dynamic, social entrepreneurs.
This organization provides resources for all
types of social enterprises, including those operating in
schools, and is a great starting point to learn more about
how social enterprise can be created by students.
WHAT IS A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE?
A social enterprise is a dynamic business with a
social purpose, it invests its profits for community
The sector includes co-operatives, credit unions,
housing associations, development trusts, social
firms and community businesses.
Social enterprises operate across a diverse range
of areas including: fair trade, recycling, catering
and hospitality, renewable energy, health, social
care, leisure, community transport, housing and
There are currently over 5,600 Social Enterprises
operating in Scotland, employing 81,357 full-time
equivalent employees (Census 2017, Social Enterprise
WHAT DOES SOCIAL ENTERPRISE LOOK
LIKE IN A SCHOOL?
CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY
School-based social enterprises have explicit social
and/or environmental aims and their profits
are used to help achieve these. These can either
be local issues or issues linked to a community in
They have a clear trading activity and are directly
involved in producing goods or providing services
to a market identified by the pupils.
LED BY YOUNG PEOPLE
They are driven and run by pupils with support
from teachers and parents. Pupils should spread
the awareness of their social enterprise across the
school and the community.
School-based social enterprises aspire to make a
positive and responsive change to peoples’ lives.
Social Enterprise Academy
CRAFT AND FOLK ART IN PLACE-BASED PEDAGOGY
I’ve been covering the many benefits to be gained from
integrating place-based considerations to the art or
core curriculum. One that I am increasingly interested
in is the possibility that students who are engaged with
their communities will be encouraged to do their part
in developing their local creative economy. The space
between school and community holds so much possibility
for the enrichment of both, yet they too often remain
stubbornly separate. Bridging this gap may be a key in
allowing both to fully thrive in many rural communities.
Throughout my fellowship in Scotland I had been looking
at how schools can enrich their arts to make these
connections and improve both schools and communities.
As I neared the end of my fellowship, I looked to
synthesize the results of my experiences and reach conclusions
and practical trajectories to further this work.
Rural Craft Guides:
FACE and the Heritage Crafts Association have developed
step-by-step guides for teachers about six rural crafts.The
activities are easy to deliver, fun and curriculum linked.
One avenue my research increasingly steered me towards
is the inclusion of craft and folk art into both the
art and academic curricula.
Folk art is widely viewed as art that is rooted in traditions
that come from community and culture – expressing
cultural identity by conveying shared community values
The International Museum of Folk Art describes it as such:
“There are many different ways to think about folk art.
In fact, there is no one definition of folk art. In collecting
and displaying folk art, the museum considers
Generally, folk art is ART that:
• may be decorative or utilitarian
• may be used every day or reserved for high ceremonies
• is handmade; it may include handmade elements, as
well as new, synthetic, or recycled components
• may be made for use within a community of practice
or it may be produced for sale as a form of income and
• may be learned formally or informally; folk art may
also be self-taught
• may include intangible forms of expressive culture like
dance, song, poetry, and food
• is traditional; it reflects shared cultural aesthetics and
• is recognized that, as traditions are dynamic, traditional
folk art may change over time and may include
innovations in tradition.
• is of, by, and for the people; all people, inclusive of
class, status, culture, community, ethnicity, gender,
Students who are lucky enough to live in places defined
by rich cultural heritage might naturally
be exposed to folk art, while others with less
distinctive history draw from broader influences.
Ceilidh dances, for example, are taught in
primary schools in Scotland as part of physical
education courses – a great example of incorporating
folk art as place-based integration. The
students learn and practice a skill which has
been handed down from generation to generation.
This skill exposes them to cultural nuances
and deeply connects them to their heritage.
Teaching folk art provides a natural bridge to
the cultural significance and history of a place;
be it a student’s home or far beyond.
The etymology of the term “craft” is a discussion point
in itself and one that brings with it varying viewpoints
and perspectives. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the
Renaissance saw a distinction between art and craft as the
status of painters and sculptors (who were previously regarded
as craftsmen) was upgraded to “artist”. Complicated
further, distinctive meanings of terms like decorative and
applied arts adds to the confusion. While the discussion
of art vs. craft interests me, I will leave this distinction to
those who simply know more about it than I do. For my
purposes here, I understand the term craft to be an activity
involving skill in making things by hand.
For most of our history, making things by hand was the
norm and the techniques were passed from one generation
to the next. Many of these skills are in real danger of
dying out as technical knowledge is possessed by craftspeople
who are becoming older and retiring from their
work. In an age where screens devour the hours in a day,
there are fewer people rising up to take their place in the
chain of folk artists and craftspeople. The UK Heritage
Craft Association even has a list of roughly 100 endangered
and extinct crafts, including clock making, chair
caning, and surprisingly, letterpress printing.
Teaching craft offers many of the same benefits of any
visual art method, however, I wonder if it might speak
to students in an alternative way than traditional gallery-exhibition
art. Craft involves practice and the goal
of a formal product. It lacks social status and the perceived
intellectual component that accompanies many
art forms. Craft exists outside of the artist and connects
each maker with a larger community of makers.
“Craft is a way of doing things involving deliberateness
and attention to detail and representing
the accumulation of skill over time. Craft
invites a life in which the objects that surround
us speak to us of what is important.”
~ Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, president, North Bennet Street
Just as design offers an integral set of skills which are
necessary for a robust art curriculum, craft offers many
of the same skills, often more aligned with environmental
causes. Craft encourages students to return to
basics, to practice techniques that their ancestors were
practicing from all over the world. Craft invites students
to use their hands to make something and be proud of
that object when they are finished. Further development
of these skills can open economic doors for the students
that pursue their craft as a business, thereby strengthening
the creative economy and providing additional
incentive to carry on their local traditions.
Kari Giordano | firstname.lastname@example.org | karigiordano.com