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Jon Zahourek’s Colorful Instructional Style

Jon Zahourek, master teacher and founder of the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System, teaches anatomy in a unique way.

There are many teachers who lead classes at the non-profit Anatomy in Clay® Centers in Denver. We are extremely fortunate to have enthusiastic teachers in classrooms around the country (and world) who teach with our learning system—many thousands of classrooms, in fact, at all levels (grade school through medical school).

But taking classes from the creator of the system is a unique experience.

We’ll go so far as to say it’s a “must.”

Yes, we are biased.

But students worldwide appreciate Jon's classes because they incorporate direction instruction and, as you might imagine given the fact that there is “clay” involved in this process, lots of hands-on learning.

Jon’s classes are intense—in a good way. His knowledge of the vocabulary of anatomy is, in short, encyclopedic. His lessons are informed by forty years of teaching and thinking about human anatomy, zoology, and his many years as an artist and sculptor, too. Jon is always looking for a joke or reaching for a pun to illustrate a point. Depending on the class, Jon will take you inside the anatomy to look at the subsystems. Nerves, tendons, ligaments, and muscle composition, too.

In a Jon Zahourek class, there is always discussion of evolution. To understand how humans move through space the way we do today, after all, we have to understand who we are as mammals and how we evolved. Jon’s insights on the anatomy of humans and animals—and their inter-relationship—is astounding. He has taught classes that focus on the horse (a week-long class starts June 7 in Denver) and the dog. He has studied crocodiles and chimpanzees and on and on.

To understand the function of any single muscle in the human body, you have to understand its role in day to day life so classes with Jon inevitably end up with lots of time with students (of all ages) on their feet moving, stretching, reaching, grasping, squatting, kicking, throwing, twirling, and posing in the correct, neutral anatomical position (hint: standing is not the neutral position!).

Shaping clay, Jon points out, is for children.


And you can learn so much—as proven by the doctors at the highest levels of hospitals and medical universities around the world who have studied anatomy using the system. Something deep and rich happens when your hands build the anatomical systems you are trying to comprehend—you start to quite literally grasp the knowledge in your bones.

“Even old-dog academics like me—I’m not an academic, I’m just an old dog—the child is always alive in you—always,” says Jon. “That same creative, curious child is alive and delights in learning and discovery. But you need a child’s medium to get that child back and that’s what the clay does, it gets that child back.”

Classes with Jon Zahourek go in depth with anatomy. There’s no question about that. But inevitably, students leave thinking not only about how they’re put together, but they are more aware of who they are as human beings, too.


1 Comment

What a legacy he is leaving for our youth!

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