Monday, 18 June 2018

Art and Creativity... The Future of Preschools (part 4) Konst och kreativitet... Framtidens Förskola (del4)

This post is in Swedish after the image, and links can be found at the very end of this post to further explore the topic.

For me art and creativity have always been a central part of learning, and there are lots of posts here on my blog that you can read to explore (I will list 5 of them at the end). I have frequently said that just about the whole of the preschool curriculum could occur in the art studio/atelier.

Like philosophy, for me, art is not an event, it is an integral part of learning, and very much an essential part of "original learning". The children and I learn things through art, not just artistic techniques, but also science, social and emotional development, history, engineering etc etc...

More importantly art is a creative expression of what a person is feeling, exploring, wondering - as well as an immersive way to experience the world.

Art can be a place to experience aeon.
Plato used the word aeon to denote the eternal world of ideas, which he conceived was "behind" the perceived world, as demonstrated in his famous allegory of a cave. But it is also referred to as "an age", eternity, time. Or as Walter Kohan described it ...different types of Greek time (aion, kairos, khronos): where aion is childhood, that time where time is not felt - like when you are totally absorbed by art (or another activity) and are unaware of how time rolls by. Khronos is time in the sense of chronology - a start and a finish, schedules etc, and kairos is time that is now, this moment, and each moment is different.
We need all these elements of time to learn and evolve, but school tends to be fixated on khronos - with its time tables, testing and outcomes, while children, especially the young, experience life through aeon.

In a holistic way we need all these time "approaches" - to slow down and appreciate the now, the moment, scheduled time to feel the safety of routines, to be able to see life and knowledge as well as time to be free to explore ideas... where aeon, according to Kohan is Khronos is more closely connected to knowledge and science while aeon is more connected to play and ideas.

True artistic/creative expression is in this sense aeon... not doing crafts or following a template which is khronos (you follow a chronological step of instructions). It is not wrong to follow templates, but we, as educators must be aware that we are not providing space and time for the child to explore imagination, ideas, emotions, themselves and the world around them - but only the set of instructions and related motor skills. If following instructions and the said motor skill is the aim of the lesson then this is not a problem, but if the aim is to allow the children to experience aeon, to play, to be themselves as they create then we have not been successful.

Of course art can be a mix of all three of these time approaches aeon does not have to exclude khronos and kairos.

Below are images where art an creativity take a holistic approach... the WHOLE child, the WHOLE time (ie all three times) and the WHOLE curriculum (transdisciplinary)

This is an image from Eva Tuhav Gullberg (the link takes you to her instagram and allows you to see a film of this image) The clay here has been connected to "makey-makey" so that it makes music. As a project this can involve the whole child, the feel and smell of the clay, the forming of the shape allowing the whole child to engage, the child can experience aeon through the design and shaping of the clay, the choosing of embellishment and also through creating music afterwards. The whole curriculum can be experienced - art, design, engineering, music, technology/science, math, language - and if this is done in a social context we can bring in social emotional learning.
The children could work individually to create their own clay "keys" to make notes... do they make random shapes, or do they make shapes that connect to the pitch? Will this be shape, size, or metaphorical - can they create a creature or object that would make this sound that it is connected to? If working in a group does each child make a "key" each, do they decide together on the theme, or do they leave it to chance, how do they make these decisions?
if the children have made individual sets of musical "keys" can they find any similarities between their keys, have they been inspired by each other, what differences are there, why do the children think they have made different shapes/forms for the same sound?
or of one child started and another had to continue on the same keys, how would the children respond? is it easy to allow another to finish of what you have started, is it easy to continue what someone else has started?

that the whole child means not just touch and sight - but all the senses... for instance in this image I had added food flavouring to the paint so that it would smell. Engaging the child in their painting in a new way - lemon, mint, orange blossom and rose.
Sound is also an interesting way to experience art - putting on music to dance to as we paint, or to simply paint to, or as one child I observed she copied others by the sound they made with their pens... in other words she did not copy by drawing a similar shape, but by making a similar sound, which quote often created similar images (but not always). It was fascinating to watch.
with this art experience there was most definitely a sense of chronology... the children first drew round their own photographs on perspex, then put this drawing on the overhead to project onto a wall covered in paper, and they followed the outline, they then used black paint to define the outlines. Then they designed a shade of colour that felt most them to be their background and finally mixed colours to create their shade of skin, hair, eyes etc... it was a process that took many weeks... and each session the children experienced aeon and kairos - both losing themselves to time and the enjoyment of the process as well as being aware of the moment they were in, as I as an educator would ask questions, or they stepped back to look at what they were doing.
They definitely used their whole bodies to create this, no sitting down all the time... from the table, to the wall, to the floor.
And the learning was transdisciplinary - they learned about themselves, about mixing paint, gained knowledge about artists (those that painted portraits we looked at, Klein was talked about in our process of creating our own colour) which meant history and geography was seeping into this art experience not as must have facts to learn but as interesting information that was meaningful to our art experience. The children learned that to make skin colour we all used the same colours mixed together but in different amounts, no matter what our skin colour... that we were more alike than different. They also discovered in the process that they are a series of individuals that create a group... in the beginning they were so focussed on their individual portrait that it had not occurred to them that we were painting a group . They learned how to ask for help as well as offer help.

then there is JOY... that pure moment when everyone disappears and the child is experiencing he paint (material). Of course in these moments the child is unaware of how the colours mix, that other people exist, they are totally in their own bubble of aeon...
I have also done full body art in larger groups where the group is aware of each other, but also seem to be quite unaware that the rest of the world exists... it is just them, it is HIGH energy, laughter, boundaries (who wants to get messy, who does not, how long can some participate, who will allow others to touch them with paint covered hands - in a group there is so much social learning happening - and while all my experiences with this art have been positive I have also been keenly aware of how on the edge it is - so much joy and excitement is so easy to be nudged over into tears)
I have done this inside, outside, and even directly on the floor, so that the children could clean the floor cinderella style (that was their wish to start with, the transient art process was a means to an end)
It is in these moments of creative chaos that the children are exposed to so much social learning. Many times I do not take photographs at all, because it consumes all my energy - to ensure the risk level does not escalate to danger (slippery floors) and also to be totally in tune with the children's emotions so that I can scaffold them in their processes and help them avoid falling from extreme joy into that chasm of extreme sadness... being upset is OK, being irritated is OK etc, as long as they manage their emotions, but these full body paintings tend to be extreme joy, so its a long way to fall and you need a parachute for that.
For the children to have this creative freedom means that we as adults have created a very ordered routine - who is helping those get washed afterwards, where clothes are kept, where the children have finished will be when they have had their fill of paint, and how to deal with clean up. Its is extremely structured so that the children have freedom. When I asked my group what they wanted to do on their last art session with me before the school holidays... full-body art was what they wanted - all of them. In a way this is pure freedom.

sometimes the art is not about being creative but about exploring something else... for instance in this session the children were exploring fear... and one of their fears was height... so each child got to pour out paint from the height they dared to climb up... this was a lot of fun - we talked about risk, and how we could minimise risk, we talked about gravity, we talked about turn taking (as they could not all be on the step ladder at the same time)
At the end the sensory need of the group kicked in and they wanted to mix the paint splodges with their hands and fingers. This was a group that had a huge sensory need, just as young children have, and as we were a new preschool, I assumed that they had not got this need met at the previous preschools they were at. So I made sure that I met this need, through art and other activities... and the more sensory activities they were exposed to the calmer the social atmosphere became... but this can also be due to all the other things we were doing too, but it is certainly an important part to the whole child learning.

I want to go on sharing images and thinking about how they connect to the whole child, But I realise that this post will get too long, there are previous posts about art and learning that you can refer to, and I hope to get back to this topic again.
Art and creativity are an essential part of learning... it is not just a separate subject to be learned, but a way of exploring ideas and subjects children are learning about. A tool for learning. A way to engage the whole child and not just their Khronos approach to learning.

we need to break free from this chronological way of learning... we need to embrace the whole child.

Nu på svenska (and afterwards links to blogposts and articles connected to this)

För mig har konst och kreativitet alltid varit en central del av lärandet, och det finns många inlägg här på min blogg som du kan läsa för att utforska (jag kommer att lista 5 av dem i slutet). Jag har ofta sagt att nästan hela förskolans läroplan skulle kunna förekomma i ateljén. Precis som filosofi är konst för mig inte en händelse/event, det är en integrerad del av lärandet, och väldigt mycket en viktig del av "originalinlärning". Barnen och jag lär sig saker genom konst, inte bara konstnärliga tekniker, men också vetenskap, social och emotionell utveckling, historia, teknik etc etc ... Ännu viktigare är att konst är ett kreativt uttryck för vad en person känner, utforskar, undrar - liksom ett fördjupande sätt att uppleva världen. Konst kan vara en plats att uppleva aeon. Platon använde ordet aeon för att beteckna den eviga världen av idéer, som han tänkte var "bakom" den upplevda världen, vilket framgår av hans berömda allegori av en grotta (grott-teori). Men det kallas också "en ålder", evighet, tid. Eller som Walter Kohan beskriver det ... det finns olika typer av grekisk tid (aion, kairos, khronos): där aion är barndom, den tid där tiden inte känns - som om du helt absorberas av konst (eller annan aktivitet) och är omedveten om hur tiden rullar förbi. Khronos är tid i betydelsen av kronologi - en start och en avslutning, scheman etc, och kairos är tiden som är nu, just nu, och varje ögonblick är annorlunda. Vi behöver alla dessa tidselement för att lära och utveckla, men skolan tenderar att fixeras på khronos - med tidtabeller, test och resultat, medan barn, särskilt de yngre, upplever livet genom aeon. På ett holistiskt sätt behöver vi alla dessa tiders "tillvägagångssätt" - att sakta ner och uppskatta nuet, planerad tid att känna rutinernas trygghet, för att kunna se liv och kunskap - samt tid att vara fri att utforska idéer ... aeon. Enligt Kohan, är Khronos närmare kopplat till kunskap och vetenskap medan aeon är mer kopplad till lek och idéer. Äkta konstnärligt/kreativt uttryck är i den meningen aeon ... inte att följa en mall som är khronos (du följer ett kronologiskt steg med instruktioner). Det är inte fel att följa mallar, men vi, som lärare måste vara medvetna om att vi på det här viset inte ger utrymme och tid för barnet att utforska fantasi, idéer, känslor, sig själva och världen runt dem - endast uppsatta instruktioner och relaterade motoriska färdigheter. Om instruktioner och motorisk färdighet är syftet med lektionen är det här inte något problem, men om syftet är att låta barnen uppleva aeon, lek, vara sig själva och skapa så har vi inte lyckats. Naturligtvis kan konst vara en blandning av alla tre av dessa tidsansträngningar. Aeon behöver inte utesluta khronos och kairos. Ovanför finns bilder där konst en kreativitet tar en helhetssyn ... hela barnet, hela tiden (dvs alla tre) och hela läroplanen (tvärvetenskaplig). Texten där finns på engelska.

Jag vill fortsätta att dela bilder och tankar på hur de ansluter till hela barnet, men jag inser att det här inlägget kommer att bli för långt, det finns tidigare inlägg om konst och lärande som du kan hänvisa till, och jag vill komma tillbaka till detta ämne igen.
Konst och kreativitet är en viktig del av lärandet ... det är inte bara ett separat ämne att lära sig, men ett sätt att utforska idéer och ämnen som barn lär sig om. Ett verktyg för lärande. Ett sätt att engagera hela barnet och inte bara deras Khronos inställning till lärande.

The art of learning part one
The art of learning part 2
does boredom give birth to creativity
Creativity and the artist
What is Creativity

and from Diane Kashin... The Importance of Art in the Development of the Whole Child (this is not the first time that Diane and I have been writing similar posts at the same time - this post has been in the works for the last few weeks as part of my series on the future of preschools, so it was so happy to see that she also shared a post on the importance of art for the whole child)

Future of preschools/Framtidens förskolor 1
Future of preschools/Framtidens förskolor 2
Future of preschools/Framtidens förskolor 3

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