Courtesy of author.

Tagging Along with a TEAM of Kids

By Lauren Schultz
Art Institute Chicago: Perspectives
September 19, 2018


These groups make me wonder: what does the museum look like through their eyes? Is it overwhelming? Is it weird? What do they find surprising? What do they love? So I asked my colleagues in the Student Programs division if it would be possible to tag along on a tour and talk to our young visitors. They were wonderfully obliging, and so on a rainy Monday morning, I joined a group from Talcott Elementary School.

Now to be fair, these 5th graders were not museum newbies. They were part of the TEAM program. TEAM, which stands for Thinking Experiences at the Museum, is a program in which the Art Institute partners with twenty Chicago Public Schools 4th and 5th grade classes to help teachers incorporate art into their curriculum and help students develop their critical thinking skills through art. The program involves two museum visits for the students, classroom visits for the museum educator, and training exclusively for the teachers. So this was not the first rodeo for these kids; they were practiced museumgoers, but still they had that pure energy and excitement I was hoping for.

The students and their teacher, Cintia Rodriguez, met in the Ryan Education Center with Kyle Johanson, a TEAM museum educator who has worked with the class throughout the year. After grabbing collapsible stools, the group headed out on their journey. It was a packed couple of hours: an initial circle time to share what they were each excited to see, a discussion of a Mali ritual object in the galleries of African art, time in the Ando Gallery with contemporary artist Xu Longsen’s installation Light of Heaven, and finally some time talking and sketching with modern Japanese portrait prints.

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