Monday, July 28, 2008

The Road From There to Here


Once upon a time, long, long ago, in an era before I had a thesis or a boyfriend or a gym membership - I used to paint small watercolours paintings. This is one of the first ones I painted, say in 1998 or 1999, on the back of a small cue card. Several years later, not to mention a small, but decent library of watercolour books later, I never managed to create more than a handful of pictures that I liked as much as this one. I guess that says something for beginners luck. I feel that the inukshuk is a very powerful and appealing symbol. To me - it represents both the journey and the landmarks that tell you whether or not you are going in the correct direction. It is associated with culture of our First Nations People - it speaks to me of their knowledge of love of the land and their own journey. I can close my eyes an picture this great stone structure standing firm through the worst of storms to perform its duty to guide them safety to their home - enduring year after year and season after season and as for myself - I have chosen a more convoluted route through life, so I'm always looking for some symbol to reassure me that my choices are sound. I know that there is more to it than that for the Inuit, and I'm looking forward to learning their vision of this symbol - but this is what it says to me.

I was flipping through my artwork when I was packing to move - and I find it definately reassuring that moving north in the right direction. Why else would have I painted so many pictures of inukshuks (ooh.. that isn't the right plural is it?), northern lights and igloos? (Granted the other half of my pictures feature mountains and trees) Of the five of my paintings currently hanging up - one is an inukshuk beside a cold looking river with mountains and a sunset in the back ground, 2 feature a lone pine tree on a small island - one with a sunset in the background and the other with the northern lights, 1 is a picture of a lone snag in a clear cut (from my tree planting days) and the last is an individual in parka with a sled in the winter with assorted spruce trees and the northern lights. So, you get the picture (ooh... bad pun) - my artwork says I'm finally following my heart to the place that my eyes and soul long for...

When I lived in Kashechewan, I used to love teaching art to my Grade 8's. Art was often a double period on Friday afternoons - where everyone was usually calm and relaxed and having fun and, if I do say so myself, we did some cool stuff. As for me, after school ended, then my art would begin. I'd head home and continue painting while I cooked supper. Sometimes - it was the start of the plan for the next week, but often I just painted or drew whatever called to me and it helped me unwind after a long and busy week of teaching. I miss the meditativeness of painting. Most of my stuff isn't that good - in fact some of it is downright awful. But I think that made me a better teacher - because I could say to my students - I love to draw and paint and sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it doesn't, but I do these things because I find them relaxing and fun and I enjoy painting the bad ones as much as the good ones and I don't let my lack of talent stop me from keeping doing something I enjoy - I just keep trying to get better and when something good happens - then I know I'm on the right track. I think that saved me from a lot of discipline issues.. because no one had to feel bad if their art work didn't come out great - because art was about learning and trying new techniques and no one was expected to get it perfect on their first try.

So - I have two weeks to go and one of my biggest jobs is to explore my own teaching philosphy and how I think it'll work in the North. I know that whatever I plot and plan from here will need serious retooling when I get a feel for what my students need, want and thrive on - but for now - I can take some time and think about who I am, my strengths and my weaknesses and how I can take both of them and put them to work and what I think makes a good classroom and learning environment. Not that I haven't been thinking about this for months - I'm sure half the time I fall to sleep mulling teaching over in my head - but I need to gather those thoughts into a coherant manifesto and then evaluate what they add up to.... and then maybe make up a rubric to give them some kind of letter grade (okay.. I'm kidding about the rubric). For the most part, I already have a good idea what kind of teacher I am - I've been that teacher on the ground - this is more about thinking about where I want to go from there - which parts to keep and which parts to slowly chisel away at and shape into a future me...... building on what I've got to be something more. So, I guess I have two weeks and the rest of my professional life to work on perfecting and building my perfessional persona and philosophy as a teacher and so...on that note... away I go.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Due North - Baker Lake Bound


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I guess this is my official announcement - give or take some paperwork - I'm headed to Baker Lake to teach highschool! Right now, I'm feeling somewhere between exuberant and overwhelmed by the insane list of things to do before I leave. I've included a link to Treena's Travels - a blog which not only does a great job of describing life in Baker Lake, but has first-rate photos too. Up until I found this blog, I was having a tough time finding pictures of town.

I know almost everyone that I talk with regularly knows this "news" and I've obviously been hinting for the last little while that something was up. I was hoping to find some perfect picture in my stash to go with the anouncement, but I've mostly used up the best of my photos from Repusle Bay - so I settled on a satellite photo.

I'm sure I'll have more to write about this in the near future - but for now, I should probably get some sleep so that I can function at work and manage to get the dog walked.

Good night,

Jennith

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Then in Naujaat (Now-yat)




a) Jenn, Intrepid Arctic Explorer
b) Sunset, near midnight, April, Naujaat (Repulse Bay), Nunavut
c) Boats in winter
d) Sunrise at 2 am, April 2000, Naujaat (Repulse Bay), Nunavut

I remembered that once upon a time I took pictures that didn't go directly on my computer and so I dug up my old photo album and scanned in a few pictures from my teaching placement in Nunavut. They say that once you go up north, it gets in your blood, and calls to you every time the northern lights are in the sky. Even if it is the low point of the solar cycle (i.e. the northern lights have been pretty quiet lately), I still hear that call... sometimes its as quiet as the sunrise on a windless day and other times, like today, its like the roar of a skidoo engine speeding across the ice.
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