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fw: how to teach kids about clay?

updated thu 7 feb 08


David Woof on wed 6 feb 08

Fred, kids already "know" about clay. and they are great mimics of someon=
e who they sense has a loving concern for them; seeing and appreciating the=
m as real thinking feeling individuals. Too often folks, teachers, grand =
parents included, do see them only as little demons, charges, responsibilit=
ies.....or little objects for control and imposing our will. "for their own=
good" of course!! And rightly so, to be truely concerned with effecting t=
heir lives and behavior in positive ways. Find something to admire and lov=
e about each of them, relax and take the lead; they will willingly follow. =
I was so fortunate to have an Irish cowboy grandfather who took me horsebac=
k riding as a wee child and into my early teens. He was educated and litera=
te with wide interest and spoke of many subjects and ideas as we rode, and =
many an afternoon was spent digging clay from Allens Creek and fashioning p=
ots, dishes and figures left on a log to sun dry and disappear in the next =
rain. It was his gift to turn me on to many things. I responded because h=
e offered things that intrigued my mind. He reached my heart, I felt nurtu=
red. Guns, deer and arrows. We lived by our guns; food for the table, D=
ad putting a rifle in my 13 year old capable hands as he and granddad went =
out to face the then radical and violent NFO members who had gathered in ou=
r yard attempting to intimidate us into joining their org. Or because we di=
dn't keep our money in banks; me sitting in the pickup across the street f=
rom the bank with rifle across my skinny kid knees while dad cashed the che=
ck for the cattle we had just sold and he didn't want to get robbed coming =
out of the bank. Today I don't hunt, eat deer, or carry guns in town, but I=
still have clay in my hands almost every day. Guns will find their balanc=
ed "proper" place in your grand children's lives if you gently facilitate d=
iscovery of options equally fascinating without judgement of activities oth=
er family members may be introducing them to. My five kids, could throw p=
ots before they started school, all are grown and successful in other field=
s, none make pots now except when they come to visit, but I am sure that th=
ose early experiences in discovering their own creativity with clay and bui=
lding little kilns of their own designs, some of which actually fired quite=
well, sent them off into the world with confidence. Fred, can you pit or o=
therwise primative fire your grand children's creations? Let them help bu=
ild the pit or stack up bricks, then let them light and feed the fire. I k=
now there are more than a few folks on clayart who make stuff with clay bec=
ause what really gets them going is fire. If you put clay and fire together=
it is so elemental that even "dorks and little demons" will leave their cy=
ber world to play with grandpa. (and don't get hung up on structured proje=
cts). This is where true personal creativity falters and dies. A project sh=
ould be a point of departure and technique will make sense when creativity =
demands that it be sought and learned or discovered. Micro managent of kid=
s and tightly structured projects satisfy school administration and lesson =
plan requirements because they are quantifiable on paper and seem convienen=
t to many teachers. Like multiple choice serves a teacher's needs while es=
say questions would better serve the student. Opps, don't get me started!!=
! I thank Mel for this: he told me back in 1981 that his ideal was to "ru=
n art classes like a gym class without a whistle", I took it as mine to us=
e these years, still do and it works. Thanks for that Mel. Best, David Eat=
the healthy best food you can find, drink the finest wine you can afford, =
make love to your clay and someone special often, and remember that the dem=
on kid who seems most difficult to love needs it the most._________________=
________________ _________________________________ David Woof Studio Clarkd=
ale, Arizona Ph. 928-649-5927________________________________ _____________=
___________________ peering over the edge, reverently taking an irreverent =
look at everything.

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