art

Love Note to a Teacher

School in Georgia starts early—August 1st to be exact. We’ve had a great summer filled with beach vacations, sleep-away camp, fireworks, lots of company, and time spent outside. My older son got his pilot’s license at the beginning of the summer, and I still have “sunset airplane ride” on my bucket list, but once I’ve done that, my life will be complete.

I’ve always been one of those kids that liked school. When somebody asked me my favorite subject, I never answered with “Recess” or “Lunch” because I actually enjoyed subjects like “Biology” and “American Literature.” I know. I was a total nerd.

The other day I came across this article about Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor and composer.

Leonard Bernstein, the famous maestro, had a program that aired on CBS from 1958-1970. It was called The New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts. It was an overnight success, and Bernstein called it a “dream come true” because “young people are eager, unprejudiced, curious, open, and enthusiastic.”

But Bernstein’s greatest gift may have been as a teacher.

He believed that all art is about aesthetic pleasure, and appreciation begins with an understanding of how art appeals to our emotions. More than that, he believed that the best way to understand something was in the context of another discipline.

A little more digging, and I found out that Bernstein was also the founder of something called Artful Learning. He had a passionate thirst for knowledge that inspired him to create a process for deepening academic learning through the arts.

Most people agree that all kids are artists.

Adults can make good art, too.

Well, of course that got me thinking about all the teachers I’ve had in my life. And isn’t it true that the best ones are the ones that made us believe the impossible about ourselves?

I don’t want my best days of being eager, unprejudiced, curious, open and enthusiastic to be behind me. But in thinking about the relationship I had with teachers, I remember things they asked me to do: questions they asked, books they recommended, projects they thought I would enjoy, and invitations to participate in various contests.

As an adult it’s easy to believe that my future is already set, that my future is now. But that’s a lie. Curiosity is always cool, and this year I’m going to pretend like I’m the one going to school, which means if someone begins a sentence with,

“Hey, have you ever tried…?”

or

“Hey, you’d love this book…”

or

“Hey, let’s…”

I’m going to be open and enthusiastic about it. I’m going to be a learner.

And maybe an artist, too.

Ready to take it to the next level?