Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Too much of a good thing...

After a week of the atelier working together with me... and the children developing their wire skills I added some more things to the wire table in order to deepen the experience and challenge the children as to what can be done... I am also busy messing about with the wire and seeing what can be created too.. which is having positive effects, but also a require help as sometimes little fingers are not so strong (and ometimes they are stronger than they first realise).

BUT I soon realised that there was TOO much... in my enthusiasm I had put out too many new choices at one go and suddenly the children had forgetten their intentionality and it was back to experience and consumption - they just seemed to want to use as many beads and as much wire as possible because it was there not knowing WHY or what they were going to do.
lots of new coloured wire, beads and wire cutters... which lead to a self portrait by a child...

I took many (many) deep breaths and tried to explain that yes they make take the beads they need... but what is is exactly they are doing...?

I want to create situations where the children can just experience the art and experiment with the process... but I also want the children to develop an awareness... an awareness of what they are doing, and awareness of the resources they are using, and awareness of the impact on the world when they use resouces - the environment, financial and the amount of time that went into the process of making and delivering (at the various stages) the materials to make and sell the resources...

The children were quite shocked about paper when I said that paper costs money... "but it comes from trees" - so I had to explain that we pay the person that cuts down the trees, the person that transports the trees to the paper factory, the people who work at the paper factory, the person who transports the paper to the shop and the people working in the shop... this came as a BIG surprise - especially as there is a tendency to pick up paper, scribble a little on it for the sensation and then dump it to pick up another to scribble on...

I sat down with one child who was doing that ... and asked her what DID she want to draw... a man was her answer. So I sat with her and talked her through stage by stage until she had created a person.. literally every single line needed support, "you need a head, what shape is a head... look at my head, is my head a straight line? yes, it's a circle, can you try to draw a circle?Where are my eyes? What shape are they... etc" She did want to draw the body around the head, despite talking about where the body was... the need for the pen to flow was huge...
When she was finished she wrinkled her nose and said it was ugly... but I let her know how proud I was that she had concentrated so hard to create her man... and that with practice her people would become easier draw...

We have scrap paper for messing about drawing and cutting... where there is not the need to be quite so intentional... but I feel that in the atelier there HAS to be a respect for the materials that we are using. This is not a room filled with toys... this is a room filled with tools. Sure we can be playful with them, and sure the experiences will be playful... BUT not all play is fun... play can be filled with frustration... and this is part of the process, an essential part of the process where the children can learn or work out new techniques...

Anyway... just about all the extra things have been put away and just the tiny beads and the hama beads remain with the original wires... due to there being TOO much choice and also due to the fact another child had just returned from her Christmas holiday - and for her the process had hopped over a whole step (or two) - so reducing the choices will allow EVERYONE to be a part of the process from the beginning...


It's a process...

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