Teacher Blogs

Go, Play!
Posted 11/16/2017 10:47AM

By Alice Shih-Kahn, Upper School Art

November 16, 2017

When was the last time you told a teenager to "Go, PLAY"? I have a 3-year old son and I tell him to "Go, PLAY" everyday. He eagerly hops out of his chair and runs into the other room to gather his toy cars and blocks. It is a natural action for him. Without a moment of hesitation, it is a fun and an exciting way to spend time. His imagination comes alive and suddenly, we are in a world surrounded by robots, spaceships, and ice cream!

This summer I read Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith's book, Most Likely to Succeed. Although there were many inspiring moments throughout the text, what struck me the most was their discussion about how educators can create genuine impactful moments in students' lives through exploration and experimentation. I challenged myself this year to plan my curriculum with this approach. I am aware that my students may not have career aspirations to be the next Tony Smith, Yayoi Kusama, or Kehinde Wiley. However, I will take the time I have with them to try to create lasting impressions of visual creativity.

Since September, I have found myself saying to my students:

  • I'm not sure, what do you think?
  • Well, have you tried it yet? Why not?
  • It's up to you. You are the artist and you have to stand by it.
  • Think about the entire composition. What do you want the viewer to see? How do you want us to feel?
  • Try it out. See what it can do. Go, PLAY!

Fast forward to the end of the first trimester. I teach Ceramics (trimester-long) and Studio Art (year-long). Each day I have the opportunity to work with teenagers in grades 9-12, provide a variety of materials, and work with individuals with a range in interest, experience, and skill. I have witnessed frustration on the pottery wheel, seen surfaces painted over and over and over again, and a final project that was cut in half! I believe that with this new focus, I have given students the safe place to search for their passion and produce works of art that they are proud of. Some of my students possess a different and new level of self-confidence outside of the typical academic and athletic setting. It has been an eventful start to the school year and I look forward to the adventures ahead.

Colby Accardi '21

Hannah Baltimore '20

Hannah Hoverman '21

Brian Tan '21


Lily Arrowood '21

Bullis School
10601 Falls Road Potomac MD 20854
301.299.8500 ・ Contact Us

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