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Shaping a Safe Space

Fred Wilson, "Safe House II, (Speak of Me as I Am)", 2003

I’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to collaborate and work with some fantastic teachers- both in my home district and around the country. Whenever we get to talking about introducing contemporary art in the classroom the conversation ultimately gets around to how we create environments that students feel comfortable in- places where they can freely share ideas and try representing things that don’t exactly fit into a unit on still life, for example. But once we agree on the fact that students need to feel comfortable enough to take risks, the conversation gets much more difficult.

How do we create environments (in classrooms, studios, museums?) where students feel comfortable enough to try things differently, think differently, perhaps even act differently toward each other? What kinds of things can a teacher do to help create these kinds of spaces? Thinking back on these conversations, here are a few examples….

The spaces we shape are about the tools we provide, the trust we build, and the way we organize our time, not simply about the sequence of units and the physical environment.

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