Monday, January 12, 2009

Early Publication

The image above is the first drawing I had published. Before you judge it too severely, keep in mind that I was in sixth grade! Back in the days before copiers, schools used ditto machines. The ditto machine (or spirit duplicator) used two-ply "ditto masters". The first sheet could be typed, drawn or written on. The second sheet was coated with a layer of colored wax. Writing on the first sheet created a mirror image on the back of it. The first sheet was fastened on the drum and copies could be printed -- in our school, usually in blue. I remember getting those worksheets hot of the presses and taking a deep whiff of the rapturously fragrant aromatic ink. Maybe that explains a lot.


Well, suffice it to say, children weren't usually allowed to write or draw on ditto masters. One day in sixth grade, a teacher put one of those masters on my desk and asked me to design a cover for the Spring Concert Program. I didn't really cut loose too much because I was afraid of messing it up. I can remember being thrilled to see a stack of the programs and knowing that my drawing was on every one of them! And then, looking out at the sea of faces at the concert and seeing that everyone in the audience had my drawing in their hands. This could be where I got bit by the publishing bug. The only other thing I remember about the night is that we sang "Blowing in the Wind" by Bob Dylan.

Anyway, as teachers, I think we should take the opportunity to use the work of budding artists, rather than take the easy way out and grab a clip art image. It takes just a little bit more time, but we can provide publication opportunities to the future writers and illustrators in our care.



4 comments:

Ben Villarreal said...

6th grader or not, you still drew better then than I draw now ;-)

I'm all for using student work to motivate a class. This past year, we completely rewrote the curriculum for Freshman Comp. 1. This included putting together our own course reader through a publisher who specializes in custom text books. We also had a "contest" of sorts that allowed students that semester to submit their class work to appear as model essays. It felt really great seeing one of my students' (who was actually just a high school student taking advanced credit) entire semester portfolio published in there. My current students have a heard time believing that they can affect future students, but they do seem to put forth more effort when that kind of motivation is present.

Andrew Wales said...

That sounds really great! I think stuff like that would have motivated me. I used to think, "Why am I putting all this effort into writing something that only the prof will read?"

Paul Bozzo said...

Nice work - I had my sixth graders make covers for their graduation programs. I usually picked the best 7, 8 or 9 so that anyone that did a good job would be honored. I traced their work to make the ditto paper master. Um, loved the smell of that stuff going through the printer!

Marek Bennett said...

Good point, Andrew. We can make our own publication opportunities for each other. It works that way for adults, too!

And I for one am devoting a good portion of my adult career to getting BACK to the way I drew in 4th grade...