Saturday, October 22, 2011

Authors in Schools, Adults Still Learn

Sunrise today was at 7:38, sunset will be 6:09 (I accidentally typed sunwet. Appropriate for today.).

Wet. the leaves are coming down off the crab apple trees, the maple is still pretty well-leaved but we are expecting gusty winds later today which means a lot more space showing through those boughs. The tree to the right is our maple. We are worried about its health. It keeps us cool and shady in the summer and we have amazing views and sun through its branches in the winter, but it's got more empty branches than last winter and the fruit is really heavy, more twirlies than leaves. The arborist said to watch it. I've taken pictures, we'll compare next spring. The raccoons love it! The lilacs are turning red, too.

These are the trees across the street from our house. They are like flames, they almost glow as the sun goes down. The sidewalks stay yellow for weeks after the leaves fall, like a mosaic, and the air underneath the trees is yellower than anywhere else.

Thursday (which is my Friday) was one of those odd days that can only happen when the place you work deals with both adults and children. I was out with Mark Pett all day and ended my day sitting a few feet away from Duff McKagan (Guns 'n' Roses). Just a little weird.

I spent all day with children's book author and cartoonist, Mark Pett, going to two different schools and watching him do his act, hearing the story The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes, and watching him teach children about sketching and then turning the sketches into drawings. He teaches the students to sketch, that sketches are just practice for the final drawing. You make some mistakes as you go, then choose the "good" parts to make the drawing itself. It was fun, he was pretty entertaining, but his juggling leaves a little to be desired.

The book is about a little girl who has never made a mistake. She has fans, she is polite, she always finishes her homework. On this particular day, she almost makes a mistake, almost drops the eggs she was using to make muffins. This causes her to be really nervous about everything- she can't raise her hand in class and won't go ice skating.

That night, she is to juggle in the talent show. She grabs the salt shaker, her hamster, and a water balloon and heads off to the show. Unfortunately, she didn't get the salt...She makes a huge mistake, now how will she deal with it?

You probably guessed it! At the end of the presentation, the kids ask for the juggling and, I didn't even get my camera up in time, he made one pass around and the ceramic salt shaker went flying off onto the cement auditorium floor, shattering into myriad pieces. (The photo below is just after the shaker hit the floor.)

I have to admit that I thought it was supposed to happen! It could have been an illustration of how to handle a mistake right out of the book! I was a little disappointed that it wasn't staged. It would have been a perfect teaching moment. At the next school, all went as well as could be, but he didn't mention what happened at the other school: That he dropped the salt shaker, that's why he doesn't have one here, that it exploded and now he has to figure out how to deal with it; that everyone makes mistakes and learns from it. His lesson is to carry plastic salt shakers.

Mark's program was pretty good, and his little class in how to draw, that making mistakes is how you learn to draw, is pretty well done, but I think it will be even better the next time around. I hope he incorporates the salt shaker incident into his future presentations.

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