Class Prep for Masked Students

This coming block, I’ll be teaching three classes. The school’s COVID policies are that kids have to be vaccinated or, failing that, need a negative COVID test before the first time they come in that week. Everyone will be masked. I feel like the school’s policies are the least bad compromise that embraces both the very serious needs for plague abatement — we have two immunocompromised students — and the understandable skepticism among minorities about offering any bodily control to a government and medical system with a racist, genocidal history that they get to experience any time they go to the doctor.

I’ve been speaking with two students, both recently graduated, about getting vaccinated. One is skeptical for socioeconomic reasons while the other is skeptical because she has a wide variety of serious allergies. They’re completely different conversations and I have to be able to go into each conversation accepting the possibility that the kid is right, that they shouldn’t get vaccinated. I’m sure I’ll have more of these conversations in the coming year. I’m thinking out how to have them beforehand, but it will depend heavily on the individual student and their needs.

The classes that I’ll be teaching are:

Making What You Want

The heart of my pedagogy. It’s time, materials, and inspiration for understanding the physical phenomena of the world, from drawing to electronics, puppets and robots, sculpture and carpentry. Some kids learn by taking apart machines, some learn by teaching me origami, some learn by building a robot out of an Arduino and LEGO bits. It’s such a wonderful thing to do with kids and I’ve really missed being able to do it in person.

Symbols

This is an art class experiment where we’ll use and design systems of symbols. I want to be able to put symbol systems like tarot, astrology, crystals, and alchemy into context with orbital physics, molecular diagrams, and the periodic table. It will be highly adaptive to students’ questions and curiosity, with an emphasis on figuring out what you can say with a particular set of symbols.

The relationship of alchemy to chemistry, for instance, gets understated by most science classes that I’ve come into contact with. At which point, the class teaches alchemical principles like “boiling point” because they are symbols that actually describe a demonstrable, repeatable phenomenon.

Astrology, likewise, is often taught as an obsolete form of astrophysics, but it’s not. It’s early astrophysics, and some of it is based on incorrect assumptions. But there wasn’t a line where it because astrophysics. And, more importantly, astrology is a way for the mind to talk with the mind, which astrophysics doesn’t do. Separating out one set of symbols that you can use to determine an external truth necessarily has to use a different set of symbols than one used to inspire leaps of intuition.

Drawing Animals

Guess what we’re gonna be doing?

Tha end

Well, OK, there’s a little more to this class. I think that we learn a lot when we recognize the mechanical principles of animal — including human — movement. We start to understand simple machines better, we start to understand animals better, and we start to understand our physical capabilities.

But mostly, we’re just gonna find pictures of animals and draw them. I might sit for them as a model, too. I’ve wanted to do a life drawing class for years, and this is the closest I can do right now. I hope we can someday afford to hire a model.

Wish us luck!