How has race and intersectionality impacted your life?
If you’re actively trying, every day you become more awake, and I've become more awake to the racism in this country. At my public school, I see inequities between the very wealthy and the very poor, White and Black. When I started noticing and learning, I grew as both an educator and as an anti-racist. My journey started with Tell Me Who You Are, because before I just didn’t have a path. From there, I've taken as much professional development as I can, and I've continued to make relationships with individuals who can help guide me. Race has completely changed my life, and I know it will continue to.
Why is talking about race in the subject(s) you teach necessary?
As an art teacher, I have an amazing platform to be able to think about race, especially with younger children. When you open up the opportunity to look at each other as human beings, through the lens of art, all these different shapes and sizes, the kids start to understand that we are all so similar, and that our differences are actually quite beautiful.
In an art class, also, there’s less of the pressure you find in typical academic learning. It’s more relaxed, kids can create, talk to one another, ask questions. This conscious environment that art teachers create in order to grow creativity can be utilized to guide younger children through conversations about identity, too.
What was it like teaching this lesson or unit plan?
We learn how to draw different eyes, and different skin tones.
I love doing self portraits, which is what “Different but just the Same: Collaborative Partner Portraits” is about. We have the opportunity to look at each other and see each other and see color, texture, and talk about cultural differences. Kids draw each other. We look at the layout of the face, and the placement of facial features. We learn how to draw different eyes, and different skin tones. We ask, how do you draw different types of hair? It’s so exciting.
What would you like to tell any educator looking at your work right now?
We're all racist, especially White people.
Continue to educate yourself. Devour every resource that you possibly can. We're all racist, especially White people. Get to know and dismantle your own biases.
PATRICIA M. EWALD'S Lesson plan:
TYPE: Lesson (full class) TITLE: Different but just the Same: Collaborative Partner Portraits CONTENT AREA: Visual and Performing Arts
GRADE LEVEL(S): 1st to 2nd Grade
DESCRIPTION: In creating self portraits collaboratively with partners, the students will have opportunities and the means to visually express their identity as an individual and their identity as a part of the community with their classmates.
Click below to download a PDF of Patricia M. Ewald's full lesson plan.