Spring has finally arrived in Amsterdam. The blossom is just starting to appear on the trees and the daffodils are looking cheery. I’m looking forward to getting out and about over the next few months and to trying out thinking routines in different environments and settings.

I’m going to be working as a guide/docent for ARTZUID 2013. This is the third edition of the international sculpture route in Amsterdam where sculptures from around the world are set up on the Apollolaan, Minervalaan and the Zuidas in South Amsterdam. The route is free to visit and the exhibition lasts 4 months from May to September. The ARTZUID foundation won a major European heritage prize, the Europa Nostra Award, for education in 2011 and for this year there is also a special education programme for students.  From the ARTZUID website:

‘Young people don’t automatically appreciate public art. Wandering past the sculptures raises various questions such as what is the sculpture made of, what does it depict, what shapes can you recognise, is the surface rough or smooth, what surroundings has the sculpture been placed in? The walk stimulates the imagination. The students learn to look at a sculpture and become aware of art in public spaces – not just at ARTZUID; they suddenly also start to notice sculptures in other places.’

This fits in well with my method of working – I like to encourage people to spend time ‘learning to look’ at art slowly and carefully to understand its meaning and beauty. I also believe that careful looking at art or objects helps to develop better thinking. For school groups especially, the careful exploration of objects allows students to become absorbed, to scrutinise and to construct meaning. I will be using elements of thinking routines to develop an easy structure around which these sculptures can be viewed. I’m also really looking forward to leading tours in the open air too (although hoping for kind weather!).

My other ‘out-and’about’ activity is the start of my school workshops. The first one is next week to a class of 6 & 7 year olds at an international school. Again, I will be using thinking routines to explore and understand objects and to teach students valuable critical thinking skills of observation, description, questioning and interpretation. The students have all been asked to bring in an object from home – it could be an object that says something about their family history or has significance for them, something from an overseas holiday or something from another culture, including their own. I will say more about this workshop and others in future posts, so stay tuned…

In the meantime, enjoy the gloriously late spring and don’t miss out on the tulips at the Keukenhof. Better late than never…

For more information about thinking routines, visit the Visible Thinking website: http://www.old-pz.gse.harvard.edu/vt/VisibleThinking_html_files/VisibleThinking1.html

For more information on ARTZUID 2013 please click on the link here: http://www.artzuid.nl/index_en.php

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