DuckEd: Mastering the Art of the Slow Down with El Sereno Middle School
Our 1967 Kountry Aire trailer is a site-specific classroom-on-wheels, by its nature suggesting themes of movement and travel. Yet as our world advances around us at an increasing speed, the vintage trailer is a physical reminder of a simpler, slower time in our country’s history. Inspired by this idea of ‘slow travel’, our teaching artists have been emphasizing mindfulness, discovery, and slowing down time in our Duck Truck Residency Program at El Sereno Middle School this month.
“In each class, we practice moving in slow motion so that the students learn to be aware of themselves, their peers and their environment. We teach them to slow down in a world full of fast food, fast internet and short attention spans,” explains HDDT Associate Director and Lead Teaching Artist Toogie Barcelo, “We teach them the importance of eye contact, listening, and a ‘yes and…’ mentality during collaboration. All invaluable tools for life. Most importantly, we allow them to make creative decisions during class, exercising their ability to listen to their intuitive voice and make choices.”
Creative decision-making and problem-solving are increasingly important skills in our technologically-dependent society, and will serve students in everything from careers in science and engineering, to law, medicine, and politics. While these skills are an important benefit of arts education, our curriculum is uniquely driven by the idea that these decisions and problems don’t have to be solved at the speed of light.
In our view, slowing down our movement to fully connect to ourselves and the environment allows us to more deeply evaluate and navigate life’s twists and turns, much like a lazy trip across the country in an old trailer.