The Art of Badging

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania I was extremely active in Girl Scouting. One of the joys of scouting was earning badges. Badging required me to fulfill a variety of criteria, skills, goals, and objectives in all areas of life. From drawing and painting to sewing and photography, I learned skills that are the basis for my teaching career to this day! Earning badges and awards (specifically the First Class award, equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Award) and receiving it demonstrated to me the skills I had acquired and the honor of receiving the badge or award validated that fact.

When Nina Chamberlain, my teaching associate at the time, returned from the 2015 National Art Education Association conference held in New Orleans, she brought back the idea of “badging” to our art classroom. I was totally on board with using them within the Choice-Art studios! She hand-drew over 100 badges for the 10 studios we have in the Choice-Art Studios. We had a “soft opening” last year, awarding the badges to students who demonstrated specific skills with materials, techniques, or concepts in the studios. A big THANK YOU to Nina! Thank you for sharing your talent. I couldn’t have done it without you!


Photo by Pat Kerner, Art by Nina Chamberlain

This year I have taken the art of badging to the next level. I have developed learning progressions in each of the 10 studios. After demonstrating their skill earning specific badges and fulfilling the criteria in a studio, the student can earn a “ribbon” signifying their attainment of the skills at that level of the learning progression. The Green ribbon signifies the “Novice” level, then comes the Yellow Ribbon for the “Emerging” level, after that is the Red Ribbon for the “Proficient” level, and finally the Blue ribbon for the “Advanced” level. In some studios, such as the Architecture studio, I have changed the names of the levels to reflect historical terminology: Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Architect.


Photo by Pat Kerner, Art by Nina Chamberlain

Students have enthusiastically embraced the earning of badges and ribbons, and I am finding their motivation and engagement has increased. Many students are determined to earn all of the badges and subsequent ribbons in a studio to become a master of their craft!

Little did I know that when I was a Junior, Cadette, and Senior Girl Scout that badging would come full circle and become a focus for my work with students in the arts!

Learner, Thinker, Writer: Pat Kerner serves the Trinity School community as the Lead Upper Elementary Department Art Teacher.

Photography From The Soul

I am asked time and time again why Trinity School has a darkroom. “Isn’t film photography archaic?” My answer is always simple and to the point: “No, it’s an art form!” Analogue photography, or what I refer to as “authentic photography”, and the magic of the darkroom captures our 5th and 6th grade students’ curiosity, imagination, and attention every single year.

Just recently I came across a website about “Lomography.” I learned that there has been a slow and steady movement that is inspiring the return to analogue photography. This movement began with a group of Viennese art students in the 1990’s who discovered a Russian camera called a LOMO, sparking the term Lomography. These LOMO cameras each capture a range of color or create a variety of visual effects using color or black and white film. What started out as a spontaneous and artistic approach to photography in the Viennese underground scene, developed into an international socio-cultural movement.

 The Ten Golden Rules of Lomography:

 1. Take your camera wherever you go.

2. Use it any time, day and night.

3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.

4. Try taking a shot from your hip.

5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as closely as possible.

6. Don’t think.

7. Be fast.

8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film…

9. … or afterwards either.

10. Don’t worry about any rules.

 Even though we are not using LOMO cameras in our 6th grade photography, I am proud that we are a part of a creative group of ruggedly individualistic people reviving an art form that is hands-on, mysterious, spontaneous, and technically magical. It is a lesson not only in delayed gratification, but also being open to the infinite possibilities that are out of your control. You never know exactly how your photograph will turn out!

 In conclusion, I will leave you with this quote by photographer Toby Mason:

“The world around us is not air-brushed, and we would all do well to marvel at the quirks of everyday scenes and chance sightings. I like to use film because I feel this gives photographs more character in the same way that while listening to music on vinyl isn’t as ‘perfect’ as CD or digital, it does have more soul.”

Learner, Thinker, Writer; Pat Kerner serves Trinity School as the Upper Elementary Division Lead Art Teacher.