School for Children

Presenting at PEN Conference

Posted by Kate Marcus on October 29, 2013


Three faculty members from the School for Children and the librarian participated in the annual Progressive Education Network (PEN) Conference in Los Angeles October 10-12. Roberta Berman, Shop Teacher; 12/13s Head Teacher Nayantara Mhatre, and Anshu Wahi, Director of Diversity and Community with Allie Bruce, Librarian; prepared and taught workshops based on their experiences in the classroom. 


From left:Roberta Berman, Anshu Wahi, Nayantara Mhatre, Allie Bruce

The session designed by Anshu and Bank Street College librarian Allie Bruce, titled Loudness in the Library, Empowering Students to Think Critically About Identity and Bias, grew out of a project they created last year for an 11/12s class. Students learned to address the implicit and explicit biases found in books, book covers and publishing, as well as in advertising, engaging in frank conversations about identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, body image, class and ability.  

In her session, Shop Teacher Roberta Berman discussed her fine arts approach in the woodworking studio, teaching children up through 8th grade and adult students in the graduate school. Her inclusive, developmentally appropriate, interdisciplinary, sculpture and musical instrument making curricula has evolved over the past 21 years in the Shop at Bank Street School for Children. Children crave this work, and it has a lifelong effect on the whole child, physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, socially. Accompanying her talk were projected excerpts from her interactive, multi-media iPad ebook, “The Art of Shop: Theory and Practice, Observations and Reflections” (available on iTunes). 

12/13s teacher Nayantara Mhatre focused on the importance of play in the middle school grades in her workshop. She demonstrated how Bank Street teachers use dramatic play to help students explore content, make connections, ask questions, empathize, and see problems through multiple perspectives. Shared examples of play included fifth through eighth grade classroom activities: monologues, debates, congressional role plays and a school-wide mock election that happens each presidential year. 

All three workshops were well attended and met with enthusiasm by fellow educators at the conference.