Idea No. 201: What Teachers Make – Zen Pencils

Idea No. 201: What Teachers Make – Zen Pencils

the idea: create a comic of Taylor Mali’s incredible poem, What Teachers Make

the ideator: Gavin Aung Than, creator of Zen Pencils

There could be no better way to start the next iteration of the Idea Blog then with a truly inspirational piece of art that brings to life an honest, spot-on performance.  Particularly if it’s about what teachers really do.

I am not a classroom teacher.  I do not pretend to own the patience, dedication, and grunt work that gets classroom teachers through long day after long day of full exposure with children.  Not to mention the nights grading, planning, and following up with parents that they don’t get recognized for.  But I am a teacher, an art teacher, and I have always loved to work with kids.  I live off of seeing the light in their eyes when they finally get it, the recognition on their face when they realize that they’ve done something wrong and own up to it, and the work they create when they break past the idea that “I’m not an artist.”

In his poem called “What Teachers Make,” Taylor Mali voices everything I want to say to every close-minded person who tells me that teachers really don’t work that hard, I mean, they have summers off after all, right?  Or that “those who can’t do, teach.”

I hadn’t watched the video of this poem, which you can see below, until I came across a piece of art by another inspiring educator: Gavin Aung Than, creator of Zen Pencils.  Zen Pencils is “a website where inspirational quotes from famous people are adapted into cartoons.”  This week, Than chose to turn Mali’s words into a visual art piece, recognizing not only the power of the words but the power of turning an auditory experience into a visual one which, as all teachers should know, does wonders for those of us who are visual learners.

Previously, Than has done cartoons from the words of Carl Sagan, Anne Frank, John Green, Malala Yousafzai, and many more.  He posts a new cartoon every Thursday and they are definitely ideas worth waiting for.

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