Written by Compass Volunteer, Sean Hyatt. Sean presides over one of Compass’ most well-attended and well-liked classes. Art class drives our Mondays and gets our week started off on a truly groovy note. Thank you Sean for sharing your love of your craft with our teens. 

When I think back on my schooling, I definitely have mixed feelings. Early on, then later though high school and university, there wasn’t a semester that went by that didn’t include an observation about my constant doodling and sketching while the teacher spoke. While my grades were never an issue, the assumption in most cases was that I was a daydreamer who wasn’t paying attention. The truth, after some testing and confusing conversations, revealed the opposite to be the case. Doodling was a way I could recall and apply the information, making it mine. The less hands- on the lesson, the more doodling.

Fortunately, doing art is naturally hands-on. Teaching at Compass has allowed me to incorporate my experience and beliefs into my classes. I support the teens in taking risks, testing their limits, and posing questions and answers they aren’t certain are correct. While I encourage teens to set their own goals, I have a few simple rules for my class that underscore my beliefs.

The first rule is that everyone does something. Our hands and eyes are active while we talk and laugh throughout the class. This is the most important rule for me because taking that first step is usually the most difficult. The second one seems scary at first: we don’t use erasers. This practice is liberating once you get accustomed to the idea of making mistakes. I find it to be a wonderful learning tool. The third is to respect each other and try not to disrupt others.

I prefer class sizes around or fewer than 10 kids – mainly so I can assign everyone totally different things based on where I think they need to be working towards individually. I will challenge teens by asking them not to use a certain colour or paint a certain thing this time around. They can paint or sketch blindfolded or upside down and make a mess if necessary. It’s through taking risks and making mistakes that we learn best. Sometimes the most exciting art can come out of our doodles.