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Creatubbles Article: Challenge Queen

This summer, art educators have been busy with the #K12ArtChat PLN set up by challenge queen and Texas high school teacher Arlene Shelton. Arlene has been using this hashtag to provide encouragement and inspiration for art teachers, and pushing our learning community to think creatively.

Arlene first challenged “the house of Grundler” (as she calls us) this spring to create daily hashtags for the #K12ArtChat community, the challenge was accepted and this was the result:

Arlene is always thinking of ideas to inspire fellow educators and, shortly after, sent us one of her ‘what if’ messages. ‘What if’ the founders of Journal Fodder Junkies lead a visual journal challenge? ‘Great idea!’ we said. She worked her magic and #jfj15fo30 was born. You can read more about it here. This highly successful challenge also included a #K12ArtChat co-hosted by Eric Scott. To keep the momentum going Arlene then contacted the digital art and @Vine master Tim Needles. The timing was serendipitous as Tim was about to launch The Everyday Renaissance project (a blog on this one is still in the works). Then in August#TeamGrundler launched #Reflect31 which is still currently in progress.

So with all of this going on we felt that was past due to interview Arlene Shelton about her amazing efforts. We can’t thank her enough for #K12ArtChallenge as it has been (and continues to be) an inspirational project for educators.

Share a little background about yourself and your educational philosophy.

Growing up exploring the city of New Orleans was a magical experience which still haunts my creative soul. My time was spent exploring neighborhoods and old cemeteries as well as outlying farms and swamplands. I spent more time swimming with snakes and alligators than I spent swimming in a chlorinated pool! I have also spent more time exploring than I ever did creating. However, during my high school career I did fall in love with the creative process. After high school, I moved my explorations to Texas, and went on to college receiving a BFA in Art from The University of Texas at Arlington. I decided to become an art teacher so that I might help others to find their creative spirit as well. My first step into a public high school art room was during my observation in college, I had attended parochial school and had no idea that the culture of our public schools would lack enthusiasm. Consequently, I took on a mantra based on the Antoine de Saint- Exupery quote, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” I am now married to an amazing man and we have four children. My family has taught me that this quote applies to everything in life, not just the classroom!

How and why did you develop #K12ArtChallenge?

Over time, I have become a passionate creator, and my time creating has become increasingly more important – but at the same time increasingly limited! I feel so driven to explore and create but I need help! I need encouragement and inspiration. I believe others feel this burning desire to create and we all face the same obstacles. Too much to do and too little time to fit everything in! We are all faced with learning how to balance the things we want to do with the tasks that are necessary for our survival. Learning digital literacy is one of the the things we as humans are gravitating to and this skill is becoming necessary for survival at the same time as the social aspects of the digital world become more exciting.

Why do you feel #K12ArtChallenge has resonated successfully with so many educators ?

Launching the #k12ArtChallenge during the Summer was the perfect impetus as teachers tend to be more self aware and reflective during this time. #K12ArtChallenge speaks to those passionate about art and art education. During the school year so many of us get so focussed on teaching that we lose a bit of our inner creative self. The #K12ArtChallenge has given us a bit of direction, a place to start and a community of like minded individuals who enjoy creating and encouraging others to create.

What do feel are the key tenants or mission of #K12ArtChallenge?

The key tenet of #k12ArtChallenge is “Finding your 15.” Developing a daily routine which includes time for creative exploration and sharing that experience in a social media platform. Creative passion is communicable. It is able to be communicated with others. Beyond that it is able to be transmitted from one to another. Creative passion is contagious, infectious, transmittable, transmissible, transferrable, spreadable… catching! Over time developing habits which support creativity fosters stealthy creative thought! We are able to solve problems more quickly and with less fear.

As we move into the school year how so #K12ArtChallenge morphing?

As we move steadily to the beginning of a new school year, #k12ArtChallenge will be sharing more creative challenges that we can bring into the classroom. Ultimately, it is our future society which is in need of creative thinkers. These challenges will allow us to inspire fearless creative thought within our future generations so that our future will be rich with scientists, inventors, designers, artist and explorers who will help us to respond to the complex problems of our world in unique ways!

As you know we now have a #K12ArtChallenge gallery on what would you like to see happen with the gallery?

I am so proud to be part of a PLN community that works together to promote each other and give each other a forum for their words to be heard and their works to be viewed. It is my hope that the Creatables Gallery becomes a place of support, encouragement and inspiration for all.

What is your long term vision for #K12ArtChallenge?

I think I shall look back on this Summer as the Summer of Wonder. As in, I wonder if others need as much help and encouragement as I do to keep up with current trends in Art Education. I wonder if teachers will embrace the concept of inspiring the creative spirit within our youth. I wonder if there are others out in the world willing to embrace the need of our future nation and build a world of creative thinkers, scientists, inventors, educators and artists to help solve the complex problems of our world. I wonder if the #k12ArtChallenge is contagious enough to continue spread creativity for years to come.


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