[Teaching Art] Describing Chi

Yesterday I tried to start an art study on Chinese Calligraphy. As the turkey-butts would say, it was an epic fail. Middle school turkey butts are so very very literal, that they just weren’t getting the… the… zen of the whole thing (maybe because “zen” is Japanese in origin?).  I knew that if I set them to work on calligraphy today, they would struggle, and shoot for perfection, and come up with passable pieces. I got into my tiny little head though, that I wanted them understand the concept of calligraphy as art. I wanted them to feel the chi, tap into the tao, think like Confucius. 
I heard about water calligraphy, but did not have any handy water calligraphy sets or access to a place to do water calligraphy (as we are not allowed outside of the fence until the neighboring school has gone home–more on that when I’m not pissy about it).  I also wanted to add a sensory element to the experience.  Enter… my super power of coming up with strange ideas at the drop of a hat….
I created four stations.  Each station had a large tray with a different substance on it.  The turkey-butts went around to each station (while I played interesting music), and… well… played in it.  
Dish Soap

Shaving Cream



After they tried each station, I gave them trays of their favorite medium and asked them to create a piece of art.

Then, I put five minutes on the clock, gave them white board markers, and had them write about it.  The little chi-brains went right to it.

Tomorrow I’ll see how it goes with some actual calligraphy. We shall see if this goofy idea translates into some learning.
*NOTE–Yes, I teach art.  No, I am not an “art teacher.”  I send my sincerest apologies to the art teachers in the world for attempting to teach it.  BUT, my turtle-doves NEED art in their lives, and there isn’t anyone else to do it. 

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