How to Use A Knife, Fork and Spoon

The class I am teaching this spring was listed in the school syllabus as “Drawing Heroes and Villains, Pigs and Wolves. Illustrating Comic Books 4th and 5th grade. I co- teach the class with Jessica Whitmore, (my friend who introduced me to the SOL). She is teaching “Heroes, Villains and Conflict: Comic Book Writing”.  She teaches writing, I teach drawing.

The  first item on my lesson plan for the first day of class was to teach the students how to use a knife, fork and spoon. I brought the utensils to class, and made a rough sketch of the concept to prompt me when I taught the lesson.

“Today we are going to learn how to use a knife, fork and spoon.” I held up the knife, fork and spoon .

“Does everyone know how to use these?”

“How often do you use them?”

“How many years have you been eating?”

“How many times a day would you use them?”

“Would you say you are skilled at eating?

“Can you use a spoon efficiently without spilling your cereal in the morning?”

“Would you feel comfortable saying, “I can eat?”

Then I held up a common yellow Dixon Ticonderoga 2HB pencil. and asked, “How often do you use this?”

Would you say, “I can draw.”

One boy immediately stood up and proclaimed to the class, “I can’t draw.”

I wanted to freeze time, and have that moment in space and memory stop. I would take a giant erasure and erase his comment in his speech bubble in the illustrated  comic book of his life.

I would take a black felt pen and ink with permanent  ink,  I can draw.

He was in my class last year. I thought there might have been other students who thought like him. Students who had been told they couldn’t draw. Students who believed that the person sitting next to them was better at drawing then they were. The silverware lesson was written for them.

Marcus Aurelius, the 16th century Roman Emperor wrote in his book Mediations,  “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”  I wanted my students to have a life where they think, “I can do that.”  I wanted their secret thoughts to be positive.  So I asked  the students to shout , ” I can draw!”

Writers write, drawers draw, eaters eat, painters paint, runners run.

Then I taught them how to draw an egg.

Actually, I didn’t teach them how to draw the egg, I taught them how to look at it. I teach them how to see.

——-

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11 responses to “How to Use A Knife, Fork and Spoon

  1. What a great life lesson! A neat way to approach almost any subject!

  2. Your knive, fork and spoon visual really hit me that day in class – so much so that I honestly, can’t even remember who said “I can’t draw.” It has been such a joy to watch the creativity of the kids in our classes and to teach with you my friend!

  3. Lessons for life you are teaching. I love the “I taught them how to look at it. I teach them how to see.” P O W E R F U L!! Same goes for writing, you have to see the world to think there is something to write about. Your words hit home on so many fronts. I am so glad you are writing this month, please continue through the year.

  4. I would like to be in your class. What a great description of a wonderful lesson. My favorite part was when you erased “I can’t draw” written in pencil and added “I can draw” with the black permanent marker. I just know you made that student feel that positive, too.

  5. I’ve spent much time wrestling with crippling “can’t”s. The most difficult ones are those that are invisible, where the “can’t” has slid into your being and doing in ways you don’t even recognize. At 39 years of age, I still fumble with the permanent markers sometimes.

    Wonderful slice, as always. You are teaching me how to see daily.

    • I think writing helps us to see what we have hidden inside us. To find the invisible “can’t” and rewrite them as “will”. I will gladly lend you an erasure to erase your can’ts. Or maybe you need to slay they with your poetry.

  6. My heart is with that little boy who has been taught that he can’t draw. I used to draw all the time as a kid, but hated art class because I always felt inferior there. I love the way you used pictures in this post. Erasing his “I can’t” statement was powerful to read, but so much more fabulous to see!

    I love-love-love the class set that you and Jessica are teaching! I would love to be taking both of your classes right now. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels but … dare I say it … I can’t draw. No, that’s not true, but I do still hear the old voices whenever I think of trying my hand at illustrating a story.

    Hmm … do I feel a little inspiration coming on?

    • I would love to have you take the class. Isn’t it interesting how the perceptions of ourselves we developed as children follow us all through life? I think as adults it is good to go back and say to the little kid in our head, “Hey wait a minute.” I have always been afraid of deep water. I can swim just fine when I can stand up in the pool. I am working on getting over the fear, so that I can say, “I can swim. I am not afraid.” Wondering what you will do with a pencil 🙂

  7. Thank you for taking me through your lesson. The quote expressed your intent well. “I wanted their secret thoughts to be positive.” An inspiring notion for us all.

  8. I love this! I just wrote this in my notebook. I share with kids that their first step is believing in themselves. Great illustration. And yes, you do teach them to see – to see the possibilities.

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