On Friday we attended the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and hid from the frigid cold amidst sculptures, artifacts, and paintings. The students broke into pairs of two and completed a scavenger hunt task with which they needed to use the MIA map and their spatial skills (no Google maps) to find the designated artwork and complete the designated task to invite wonder and study. From dishes in ancient China to tribal masks to European Impressionist paintings, the adolescents ventured amidst the galleries representing various cultures and expanded their worldviews and their knowledge of history.
As they wandered amidst the 2nd and 3rd floors, I wandered around and observed them. They had a competitive fire and interest as they searched and looked at room numbers and asked the security guards and docents for assistance. One security guard told me he had never seen any students as well behaved as ours!
After about 3 hours of scavenging, the students came together and discussed the hi's and lows and what new and interesting pieces they came to learn about. Although they may not readily admit that the MIA was their first choice of places to be, I sensed a feeling of accomplishment (amidst sore feet) for what they did and how intensely they studied and hunted and worked together.
Leaving for the day, I saw a maturity in the group that I hadn't seen before, a sense that they can handle being in a "real world" environment and behave in an ordered and grace-filled way. I saw them understand that the MIA may be boring but that many students aren't able to see first-hand some of the beautiful artwork that they were able to walk by that day. I saw in them a self-awareness and a self-composure that was new and profound. What a beautiful day.