Becoming and Understanding Through Partnership…Teachers, Artists, Children
“Art is a fundamental human enterprise…In making art we make ourselves. In understanding art, we understand ourselves”
(Council of National Cultural Institutions, 2006)
A few years ago, Jane O’Hanlon from Poetry Ireland shared the quote above at a Teacher-Artist Partnership planning meeting. It nestled into my soul and over years bore unexpected fruit in unanticipated times. March 2020 was both unexpected and unanticipated.
As a Primary Teacher in Holy Family Junior School, Portlaoise I had been enjoying the roll-out of our 2nd year with Creative Schools, planning a Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Residency with Senior School and visual artist Caroline Conway and asking the Arts in Education Portal if I might blog the process.
Teaching and learning shoved online, Dojo launched, and Teams formed. Some school relationships wound tighter while others were jettisoned into the unknown…uncontactable, yet still loved and worried about. In the connected isolation of primary teaching in a pandemic, during the seismic refocusing of the Black Lives Movement, the personal and professional values that are lived through teaching felt more important that ever. In this context our TAP Design Team began to rewrite our summer training programme for delivery online.
TAP Online 2020 was controversial for us to commit to as a concept. We strive for a deeply creative, reflective and connecting style of professional learning that hinges on face-to-face interaction. Where we lost this in-room exchange for artists and teachers, we gained a most incredible, technicolour window into the creativity, emotionality, and deep-commitment of teaching professionals to working in artistic partnership with and for the children they teach. The artist-teacher partnerships of TAP 2020/21 will be led by our community to process pain, heal hearts, and build new identities through creativity, connection and love-in-the-arts for the children of Ireland.
“School should foster an environment that allows children access to explore their identity in the sanctuary of ART – I aim to do this in my classroom.” James O’Donnell TAP Participant 2020