Here’s what I love about teaching writing in the Oak Park Arts District (OPAD): The kids are deep! One eleven-year-old student said to me, “I worry that human beings will forget how to write.” The others in the group nodded thoughtfully as they experimented with quills, fountain pens, and handmade scrolls. I was teaching about the history of writing, hieroglyphics, pictographs, and alphabets at an OPAD arts camp initiated by local children’s author Sallie Wolf, called Art of the Book. The kids talked about how they wrote their school papers mostly typing on keyboards. They pondered this amazing transition they’re experiencing, going from pen to pixel.
In Manga Mania, another camp I co-taught with artist Karen Su, kids learned about the art of Japanese comics (go AstroBoy!). We were discussing different senses of time – linear, analog, clock-time. External time. Time as experienced inside your imagination. “Outside, we count time by minutes, hours, years,” I’d told our class. Then, one student casually dropped this gem: Inside her imagination, “time is measured in pages.” Comic book pages. I will tell you now, her creative process blew my mind. This student just owned it – no apologies.
The greatest thing about teaching in the Arts District is that I get to witness the kids claim their creative process and ponder their own place in history. Heady stuff. So, to you, parents of children in Oak Park, River Forest, and our other friendly neighbors, I offer my thanks. You have to be doing something right to raise such engaged and thoughtful kids.
Parents, what do you do to support your kids’ creative play and exploration? Email me your tips to share in this column, and let’s keep nurturing creative spaces for our budding artists.
M.G. Bertulfo writes fiction based on Philippine history. At Taleblazers, she runs creative writing workshops for kids. She is also the Assistant Director of the Oak Park Arts District (OPADBA) Art Camp.