© 2011 Marla McLean


“If aesthetics fosters sensibilities and the ability for connecting things far removed from each other, and if learning takes place through new connections between disparate elements, then aesthetics can be an important activator for learning.” Vea Vecchi

Since returning to school in January, the atelier has been filled with wire. Spending long periods of time with a type of material is essential in the studio. Not only does one gain a sense of mastery and ability to manipulate and craft, but one gains a deep relationship with the process. Habits of mind develop, and languages begin to emerge…






I wanted the children to view the work of artist Alexander Calder. Slowly, I have been taking groups of children to the National Gallery to truly experience Calder’s grand and intimate mobiles, stabiles and wire works. With the help of parents Paromita, Trin, Amy, and Laura M., each child had a bag of varied types of wire and beads to express the impact of Alexander Calder’s work, as we sat amongst it. Viewing his large work, we returned to ideas of perspective, and I introduced questions of balance, shadow, and movement.





Loris Malaguzzi used to say that the work of a teacher is for ‘professional marvelers.’ The definition is truly beautiful; a message of hope for such a delicate profession.” Vea Vecchi

May we all (teachers, parents, and citizens) aspire to be ‘professional marvelers’ in this complex world of ours.

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  1. Laura
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm | #

    Wow. We are so fortunate to have Calder’s mobiles right in our back yard. And fortunate to have you Marla, to take our kids there. I had no idea you had them work/build/create right there, in that space. What a unique and immediate experience that is! I’ve been there many times, always inspired to go home and make a mobile… only to have too much time and space pass, and other things get in the way. You are not fooling around… this is serious, deep, meaningful work. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Posted February 20, 2011 at 11:36 am | #

    What a marvelous experience to watch your students work with wire as they experienced Calder’s mobiles! Such a great environment for this discovery. Their creativity is breathtaking. You are wired for teaching, Marla! (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)

  3. Posted February 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm | #

    Thanks, as always, for sharing the experiences from your studio.Tell the children that the wire people are very, very beautiful. I also love the quote from Malaguzzi -the Vea Vecchi book is so inspiring, isn’t it?

  4. Posted February 21, 2011 at 1:23 am | #

    Sometimes I get so caught up with the ins and outs of teaching – checklists and routines and behavior, etc, and I forget to marvel at what’s happening in front of me. This makes me want to just sit and watch everything that’s happening in our classroom. Thanks for the reminder, Marla.

  5. Kelly
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm | #

    Marla and the children and families at SWS,
    I attended your seminar today in Detroit, MI and I am inspired and stunned at the respect and dedication you have to make sure every child’s voice is heard–no matter what the language. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

  6. Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:27 am | #

    GRACIAS for reminding us, showing us, teaching us to
    stop and look,listen and feel.
    To be aware of the small wonders around us.

    The work you post is so inspiring… Thank you Marla.
    Mariana (from an atelier in Lima).

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