Class 10: An Inquiry Discussion with Educator Sally Paul

Longtime AFAM educator Sally Paul visited class today. The Teen Docents were tasked with a layered assignment: to learn from Sally and to learn how Sally helped them learn.


Sally introduced her theme–Pattern–and her sub-theme–how the fashion designers in the exhibition Folk Couture were inspired by patterns in folk art–and then led the students over to her first work of art, an early-20th century Odd Fellows papercut.


Through a series of carefully sequenced questions, she drew the students in to notice more and more details, patterns, and symbols included in the papercut. After they had noticed as much as possible, she invited them to interpret what they saw.


She wove in relevant information about the Odd Fellows and helped the students understand how the work was created. Then, she asked them to take a seat and sketch their own symbol related to a value they live by. The Teen Docents shared symbols for values like strength and independence.


She then asked the students to turn their attention to the garment by Catherine Malandrino that had been inspired by the papercut. After a conversation about it, she asked the students to come up with a single word to encapsulate the dress. Their words included “chic,” “simple,” and “Spanish” among many others.

Lastly, Sally led the students over to John Bartlett’s garment and the work of folk art that inspired it. She divided the class into two halves, asking each half to study one of the objects and discuss it among themselves. She then invited the students to share what they noticed. Again, she started with more general observations and moved to interpretation and connections.


The students were sad to see Sally go! When asked what they’d learned from watching her lead a tour, they spoke about her even, soothing speaking tone, her confident way of standing without shifting around, the way she was always aware of the entire group of participants even when listening to just one who was speaking, how she was nonjudgmental and accepted a wide range of opinions, and how despite being very open, she kept the conversation focused and controlled. Hopefully Sally can come back and participate when the students lead their own tours in April.


4 thoughts on “Class 10: An Inquiry Discussion with Educator Sally Paul

  1. This class was very interesting, I loved the way that Sally spoke through out the tour in a way that allows us to think about the pieces in depth. My favorite part of the tour was the activity because everyone was opened to it and we learned things about each other.

  2. Like most tour guides, sally had a great way on keeping us as the viewers still curious about a piece of art, but at the same time giving us knowledge about it. I felt like she was kind of picky with her words, in order not to give out too much information, and for us to come up with the meaning/message in the art work. That was the one of the things i really enjoyed during the tour.

  3. I really enjoyed Sally’s tour. Not only did I receive art knowledge with her tour, but I also learned skills of how to make an art tour interesting and fun. She allowed us to do hands on activities that related to the art work, and asked interesting questions that pushed us to further evaluate the art pieces.

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