Shyness and Bloom is a creative arts studio in Victoria B.C. Sit down, relax, and enjoy our most recent interview with RachelBoult, who is the creative mastermind of Shyness and Bloom. Her studio is a creative cocoon, where a child’s imagination and creativity are encouraged to run free and transform into an amazing piece of art that tells a thousand different stories. Furthermore, if you look far and hard, you will see the next miniature Any Warhol working furiously on his/her work of art.
Question: Hi Rachel. It is a pleasure to talk to you again, as our last conversation revealed a great amount of information. Moving forward, let’s talk home schooling, and why you decided to target that community of learners?
Rachel: Basically I think that it really does take a village to raise a child, and I want to be a part of that village. I have wanted to expand my reach ever since I started Shyness and Bloom, and up until now, have managed a balancing act with working in schools and in the studio. This year, I have consciously taken the steps to have more time in my studio so I can accommodate more kids during the day. I have also developed a great relationship with a home-learning family, who I have great respect for, and have learned a lot from with regards to their approach to learning and values, and it has been a really great fit with my “teaching” philosophy. Through them, I have been inspired and encouraged to reach out to more home learners and families who also value the creative development in their children, and I am fortunate to have the space to provide that potential for growth.
Question: What are your thoughts about homeschool learning to in the classroom learning. What are the pro and cons of the two?
Rachel: When you work with kids, you quickly learn that each child is unique in their needs and learning styles. I admire parents who actively participate in this journey, and especially when they see that their child may not be served best in the regular school system, because not every child can thrive in a class of 20+, or within the structured curriculum. There are issues regarding time, depth, and pace of instruction. For some students, it is too fast, while for others it is too slow. Homeschooling allows for the learning to be tailored directly for the student, but it does come with challenges. Parents need to be proactive about getting their children into group activities, and collaborate with other parents and professionals in the community so that they feel supported. From what I understand, it’s not all that easy to find programs that fit with everyone’s schedule and values.
Question: Can you go into more detail about the regular homeschooling programs that Shyness and Bloom offers: Art and Science, Art and Writing, and Art and the Environment?
Rachel: There’s a Chinese proverb that speaks to this: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” I believe that when you combine art with any subject, or simply engage the creative mind, you get deeper, more meaningful involvement and understanding, as well as personal ownership of subject matter. I decided on those three integrations because of my personal passions and background. However, it could be anything that needs attention. Art and math, for example, has many overlaps, and I would love to consciously explore that as well with a group one day.
I want to emphasize that my structure or themes are there to serve as an invitation to deeper thinking and exploration, and each class is designed around the pace, interests, and direction of the students in it.
Question: I see that you have incorporated art with three other subjects: science, art, and the environment. Do you think that the mixture of art and science, writing etc., gives students and their teacher (parent) another way to learn the content in a more creative way?
Rachel: Yes, exactly. But it’s not just about creativity itself. It’s giving the students a chance to use their knowledge and skills to enrich their participation in the world. On a very deep level, it’s an attempt to instil a sense of “personal agency” which is an awareness that they are capable of initiating, executing, and controlling their actions, and using what they learn confidently and freely throughout their lives. For example, I think that as children learn to write, they need to understand that it is important fundamentally because what they have to express is so valuable and important.
Question: What can parents and their child/children expect from your programs, and do you have any involvement during the term?
Rachel: I encourage, and want to have on-going dialogue with parents about their children, and what they are learning and talking about at home, and during class. Like I said, the goal is to form a partnership with parents, so that the needs of the children are always the focus.
Question: Do you have any other plans/visions for your homeschooling programs? Do you see yourself composing/implementing the combination of art/subject programs in the near future?
Rachel: I am not sure where it’s all going to go. I have the studio space where possibility is boundless, and my teaching experience to draw from. It is really up to the community, and the families that join me in the studio.
Question: Is there any prior information that parents should be aware of before they a) homeschool their child, and b) use one of your three homeschooling programs?
Rachel: Listen to the voices of the children, their passions, and their joy, and you will be amazed at the wisdom they hold. At Shyness and Bloom, this is always a focus, and it is an inspiring and amazing journey.
Question: It was great to talk to you again Rachel. Would you like to say anything else as a closing note?
Rachel: Like I said in the beginning, I have been working with a home learning family for the past three years, and I have witnessed an amazing amount of growth in these children in their time with me. I asked their mom what she appreciated most about the experience, wondering if it was a house that is now probably brimming with all sorts of wild and wacky art pieces, or if it is the documentation that I provide – all the beautiful chatter that is recorded and the photos that, in the purest form, show the learning and innovation that happens every day. But here is what she said, “Our children have been attending Rachel’s classes for three years. We are a homeschooling family and believe in enriching the learning experience of our children by allowing them to creatively approach life with openness and awareness. Rachel has a holistic approach with our children and in that they have developed a trust and a close relationship with her. They are able to learn and grow on many levels. Not only have they been enriched in the art world but there has been a cultivation from within for them to apply to all learning and life. Rachel sees each child individually. Her awareness, intuition and respect always makes us appreciate the value of having her in our lives and we believe we have provided our children with an amazing opportunity to learn through her.”
Mick: It was a pleasure to sit down with you Rachel. I learned so much about Shyness and Bloom and the amazing services that you offer in and out of the studio. Children who are able to enjoy the endless creativity of Shyness and Bloom are very lucky indeed.
Remember Shyness and Bloom when you need your child to express their creativity somewhere else than on the walls of the house. Shyness and Bloom is more than a place for a child to get covered in paint, it is a place of growth and intellectual development – an environment that fosters a child’s potential for greatness.