EPISODE 29: THE STORY ABOUT

Kindness at Heart

with Kate Lindquist

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I know for myself with my art lessons, I don’t see it simply as an art lesson. It’s a learning lesson. And we use art to learn.

Jamie
In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Author unknown. I’m Jamie Hipp, and this is Teaching Trailblazers, a show about teachers, artists and leaders in arts integration and STEAM. On this episode, we talk all things art and kindness with Kate Lindquist, founder and owner of Peace, Love, Art, whose goal is to bring creativity to the lives of all. Kate has worked with youth, teaching art, inspiring creativity and sparking curiosity for over 15 years. Welcome, Kate.

Kate
Hi, Jamie. Thanks for having me.

Jamie
We’re thrilled to chat with you today. So Kate, you are a member of the Arts Integration and STEAM Think Tank, which is a Facebook incubator for arts integration and STEAM ideas and lessons and strategies in K 12 education brought to you by the Institute. And I certainly hope all of our listeners who are not yet members will join immediately. And Kate frequently posts inside of the think tank group about Art Date with Miss Kate. Tell us more.

Kate
Yeah. Well, you know, this started almost two months ago with all the pandemic stuff that kind of started up and I was sitting on my couch in the evening and thought I have to make sure kids don’t have a bad memory of this time. Like, what can I do to make sure they’ll look back and have a… I remember that it was great, because I know as a kid for myself, I would have been terrified right now. And as an adult, I’m not totally not terrified, but and a few friends reached out to me and said, Kate, can you like do some live stuff? And I said, Well, let me think about it. So I… it was almost like divine intervention, kind of said, look how to do a YouTube video. Put it together. So I did it, I googled how to do a YouTube video, made one the next day on my iPhone and plopped it up there. And it’s been that initial thought of I have to make sure kids have positive memories has been that driving force even to this day. And it’s me, it’s me, even though I’m at home, it’s literally who they would see if we were in school. It’s the person that nobody else really sees unless they walk into that door of the art room. And it’s allowing me to continue my creativity as well.

Jamie
I love it and what a great reminder for myself and our listeners that you don’t necessarily have to be an expert. It’s okay to dabble in your very first YouTube video or your very first time trying to use an edtech app or maybe a new creative technique or strategy. Such a great reminder. I know that you’re a huge proponent of spreading kindness. What initially turned you on to the kindness movement and sort of fuels your continued passion for it?

Kate
You know, to be honest, I think it’s been with me since I was born. I don’t see it as a movement, like I don’t get up every morning and think, okay, I’ve got five kindness acts I need to do today. It literally is a just who I am. And I know even as a kid I think at times I struggled with it because I would see others hurting and have to figure out how can I help them? So it’s kind of been with with me since childhood, and I think that’s, it comes very easily but I do know that it’s- I don’t want to take it for granted, that some people might not quite understand how that works. So I think part of it is me modeling it and saying, showing like, I’m… This is who I am. This is what I do. I see a positive quote and I just want to share. Like, I feel like Mary Poppins of like the kindness crowd like I have here this is in my bag. Let me see, you guys might like this too. But nothing is just mine. It’s it’s for all of us to share and enjoy and if I can just go about my day being who I am. It’s awesome to see that it kind of has that ripple effect and is seen as me being kind but it’s just it flows past that.

Jamie
Okay, Mary Poppins, I’m not gonna make you sing Just a Spoonful of Sugar…

Kate
No don’t, I’ll shut up right now.

Jamie
Let’s talk a little more about kindness and connecting it to art and visual arts specifically. Your motto on your website is it only takes heart to make art and of course, I should explain to the listeners that the word heart has the ART capitalized. Why are heart and kindness so important to learners today in 21st Century environments?

Kate
Um, I think due to technology, it creates a big disconnect. It uses a lot of our… or it overpowers our brain at times. And it really causes us to separate from our emotional side. I just did a Art Day with Miss Kate, for mental health awareness on the amount of technology and information that floods us that didn’t flood us 20 years ago. We get about 34 gigabytes daily of information. And by the end of the week, we would break a computer. If that was the case like to kind of translate it for kids to understand that’s hitting us so I think it’s caused of kind of like a little bit of a wall that kind of keeps us from really getting deep into those deeper layers that lie within the core of ourselves. So, art for me growing up has always been my outlet. It’s been what I do, I turn to it. I mean, I could be creating a beautiful artwork or just putting together Lego pieces, that’s creating just as much. But when you do that, like the whole world shuts off around you, in a nice way, like the peace comes and the calm comes. And I think having putting the capital ART in heart is a nice reminder that we create from that place when we are creating, whether we’re baking a pie, or mowing our lawn or shooting like a three point shot from the line on the basketball court. When you’re really in that moment, your heart is allowing you to create art in a really magical way. So I think right now, if we can incorporate that as much as we can, because technology is great, but there is a point where it’s going to overflood our brains and we kind of need to protect those little things out there.

Jamie
They are very special. And you said a lot of terms like calmness and creativity that really make me think about social and emotional learning or SEL. And in fact, as you know, the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM offers an online SEL in the Arts course, for professional development hours or CEUs. So I want your take on social emotional learning skills, specifically other than kindness. What other SEL skills can we develop through the arts?

Kate
I think all of them? I think it’s a great place for us to learn about cooperation because we can do ummm, either a collaborative art piece, or even if you are sharing art supplies in the art room or any classroom for that matter. Learning to cooperate and relationship skills develop from their self awareness and how you relate to others and who you are as a person. So I, I don’t think it’s limited at all. It’s it’s only limited by our own personal imagination of what we can do. So there’s so many opportunities… Using every opportunity as a teaching moment, or as a moment that you could expand on. So, I mean, it could be as simple as scratching your nose and you say, did you get the sensation before the thought? Like, I mean, every little piece if, if we, if we kind of live the world, as little explorers and scientists, every moment is an opportunity to develop more skills, SEL or any other kind of skill.

Jamie
I wonder if all of our listeners just did what I did by scratching my own nose and thinking did I get the sensation first or the thought? Fascinating. Okay, what tell us some more specific ways that teachers and art teachers can foster kindness and social emotional learning across the board. We love lessons examples and ideas and just those rich moments like you were talking about,

Kate
Definitely, um, I think first and foremost, modeling it yourself. Not to make it like that checklist where if it’s kind of incorporated into your lesson… I know for myself with my art lessons, I don’t see it simply as an art lesson. It’s a learning lesson. And we use art to learn. That’s kind of like my platter that I’m delivering this message on. So if it’s, say we are going to do, how to spread kindness around the world, maybe we’ll do a strand of hearts all connected and each child in the classroom writes a little saying so we can see that our sayings connect to the next heart, kind of like those paper doll chains that you have as a kid?

Jamie
Right.

Kate
So making it part of the project, but not something that has to be done, okay? Over the weekend, you’ve got five kindness things or five SEL activities, it needs to sort of be a part of who you are. And I think as educators, it’s our job to, like, kind of hide those into the project so that kids don’t realize they’re doing it, it just becomes second nature of, Oh, I, there’s trash on the floor, let me pick it up, because I might be able to use it for an art project, but I’m also helping the earth. Like, I mean to be as creative as we can be. Because when you start separating it into these separate compartments, it takes away the interconnectedness of just life in general, because I feel nothing stands alone. We need the rain to have the rainbows. So if we start doing that to education as well, it really separates the way that kids can integrate it into one big, gigantic understanding.

Jamie
And you’re speaking about integration, which of course, you know, arts integration through the Institute. But also it leads me to my next question that I knew I definitely wanted to ask, which was, aside from early childhood in some elementary classrooms, kindness is rarely explicitly taught. Should we change that at all in maybe those upper elementary, middle school, high school years where we are getting more so than the early childhood space, some bullying, some negative behavior, and I think a lot of middle school teachers in particular that deal with student attitudes, for lack of a better word, should kindness be more explicit, or would you still suggest truly integrating it and it being something that is a part of a larger project?

Kate
I think I would go back and forth on that. That one, and it would probably be more of a case by case basis. With the older kids, I think it’s definitely important to show them how to be kind because if they’re at that age, they kind of probably haven’t understood it in the elementary levels. So have… offering a class on it. But again, somehow incorporating it into a bigger picture of this is just how you should live. This is just how you should be nice. And I think a lot of it comes to the educators being the role models and living it themselves. If you see two educators talking badly about someone else, or even badly about Hollywood or a movie. Like, when they start seeing, like their teacher that they look up to is putting a negative spin on something, that kind of gives them in their little brains and okay to put a negative spin on anything. They don’t have the same restrictive thoughts that we have that we rose, okay, that’s, you know, that fits for Category A, but not Category B… But then it’s all one category. So I think it’s a really good idea to kind of consider who you’re dealing with. And is it best to start teaching the beginning basics? Or can we just kind of sneak it in there but always comes back to modeling, I think, in my opinion.

Jamie
And I love that idea of balance. And, you know, going back to what many other podcast guests have said, this idea of knowing your students and meeting them where they are and truly figuring out what they need as learners, cannot be overstated. So Kate, how can we find out more about your amazing work in the visual arts in kindness and in everything else that you do?

Kate
Yeah, I actually, another thing I kind of threw together as I made a website. I was like, I don’t have enough other stuff to do. So let me do YouTube videos and websites

Jamie
Tell us more.

Kate
So yeah, it’s called PeaceLoveArt.online. Peace Love Art’s been this little like, package gift thing I’ve had in my mind for years that I just I’m going to do something with it one day and today’s… This is the day, so. It has the Art Date videos on it it has a whole month now of mental health activities as well as some videos that are doable by all ages. You don’t need a lot of supplies to do stuff because I know I’m probably the most frugal person there is and I don’t want to worry about people not having what… and I mean I want them to create. There’s ways to contact me on there and I’m on social… different all the social media platforms with PeaceLoveArt. So you’ll find me somehow there as well and yeah, shoot me an email, send me a comment on the little ‘you can contact me’ page. Yeah, it’s been a blast putting it together and learning in a time that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the same things I’ve been doing. And I’m enjoying for sure.

Jamie
Well said thank you so much for being on the show.

Kate
Oh, thank you so much, Jamie. It’s been a pleasure talking.

Jamie
Teaching Trailblazers has been a production of the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM and I’ve been your host Jamie Hipp. This podcast is produced, edited and mixed by Jaime Patterson.