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Pete and Repeat

I am attracted to visual rhythm. Alternating patterns and repetition are very much a part of my personal aesthetic. The traditional silk Kente cloth of the Ashanti of West Africa that has influenced my own artwork, is a skillful interweave of the solid with the striped; the complex with the simple.

Rhythm and pattern are also key components in teaching and learning. The beginning of the year is the best time to set up and repeatedly practice those routines that will lay the structure or pattern of your classroom. Learning requires ritual and familiar. For many struggling learners, they must have that predictability to feel safe and secure.

But as with art, teaching and learning also requires novelty. Eric Jensen points out that emotions are critical to patterning. He says, “What gets the greatest emotional response is both the familiar and the bizarre.” So, here is where our creativity and artistry must kick in. My emotional responses to the Kente cloth are those subtle and surprising variations. I must keep looking because I cannot calculate or predict exactly what will come next. The next pattern will visually connect to what came before, but the new visual information will delight me.

May we seek to establish our classroom routines and teach the foundational knowledge and skills in ways that offer safety and respect. And may we add those wonderful surprising and creative twists and turns that raise our pulse, make us laugh, and motivate us to work and grow.

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