This week we have a special guest post from Meaghan’s teaching partner, Carol McDougall. Carol is a middle school teacher, author and now an education coordinator for a gallery here in Victoria. She will explain more about her projects…

I have arrived at a place that was very unexpected and yet it feels that many steps have brought me here. I feel very fortunate to be a part of something that aligns so much with what I feel is important – kids, nature, and the fine arts.

I am in a new role as the education coordinator for the Robert Bateman Centre Gallery. Not yet ready to leave classroom teaching, which I love, I have spent this fall combining these two jobs.

Several years ago I was inspired to write, illustrate and self-publish “A Salmon’s Sky View.” I wanted children to become engaged readers by participating in an art response. I used my book to collaborate with teachers who incubated salmon in the classroom during my graduate studies. I observed an increase in literacy, creative thinking, and understanding of the salmon life cycle through arts integration. In 2009 the Canadian Science Writers awarded my book as the best science book for youth. I offer workshops in learning through the arts.

As an educational consultant, I have been developing inquiry-based programs for the Robert Bateman Centre gallery, which are tied to the new BC draft curriculum. I have been piloting these programs and providing professional development. I am working with and reporting to a supportive group including Robert Bateman’s daughter Sara who is an educator. We have narrowed down 6 ideas to three themes “Birds” “BC Animals” and “Looking at Art”

There have been many highlights but two are outstanding. Firstly, I spent the morning with Robert Bateman at his home and studio. He is an amazing artist, a committed conservationist and a fascinating and generous person.

Secondly, I truly enjoy the field trips with classes. We have spent a great deal of time preparing for these and I soak in the pleasure of watching these classes sprawled and sketching with genuine artistic intensity. They all love the art but are drawn to what I call the bird song gallery, the African gallery, and the ‘you be the curator’ gallery.

African galleryBluebird sketchyou are a curator

They are connecting to nature through art and it makes my heart sing.

student

It was this photo of my principal, which really resonated with me. He is a very busy man who is so dedicated he has accompanied us as our much-needed chaperone. The painting ‘Vancouver Island Elegy’ mesmerizes him.  I want everyone to feel that deep connection to art and nature.

Sean

How are you connecting people to nature through art?