Philip Pullman has defended the study of the arts, saying “they’re of incalculable worth in what it means to be a human being”
Also refer to an article written by myself and Claire Seeley about power of imagination in SCIENCE:
Hearing increasingly scary and frankly just plain WRONG things about schools making their Reception more and more formal. Just so sad for our children who previously enjoyed, benefitted, immersed themselves in the Early Years hands on approach. We surely need to be savouring children's natural curiosity for as long as we possibly can not stifling it before they've even started. I can't help wondering when it is that the voices of all the people who know this and readily do it will come together and stick up for the children for whom we are supposed to be working.
Harry Patch, 'the last fighting Tommy', remains an inspiration for a much younger generation in our schools. You might think primary school children might not empathise or understand remembrance day as deeply and as thoughtfully as adults but that is perhaps before you come to work with them and spend time with them. They are able to learn about Armistice day, they should learn about it. Sometimes I feel we underestimate our primary school children, we play down difficult topics or avoid them altogether. If they're big maybe we won't have enough time to explore because we have to do other things at a rushed pace with surface level understanding-missing deep and meaningful learning each time. However it would be wrong, when we sell poppies in primary schools, not to talk about why. As Loris Malaguzzi states 'our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all, connected to adults and other children'. They are able to discuss, to find out, to have an opinion and develop their own understanding of history and our world:
"When the war ended, I don't know if I was more relieved that we'd won or that I didn't have to go back. Passchendaele was a disastrous battle – thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry. Earlier this year, I went back to Ypres to shake the hand of Charles Kuentz, Germany's only surviving veteran from the war. It was emotional. He is 107. We've had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it's a licence to go out and murder. Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn't speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?"Harry Patch
Indeed it is people like Harry Patch and all his comrades who deserve to be remembered.
If we don't do that for our children who will carry on remembering and tell of our history? Who will be able to remember, to remind: 'For your tomorrow, we gave our today'?
I'm sure many teachers/adults have had the privilege of reading amazing, inspirational writing from children. I remember a mum at a parents' evening telling me about her daughter reading aloud what she thought was a poem for a poetry book because she was in another room at the time. It was a poem that the Yr 6 child had written for a Remembrance assembly. Continually amazed by young writers, always inspired by the strength of thought and empathy in their writing when they're given a chance and the time to be creative.
'THE MOON WAS SHINING OVER HER CHILDREN'
Minotaur Labyrinths. Art, history, myths+legends, planning, investigating. Bringing learning to life.
Beautiful labyrinths courtesy of the inspirational Crystelle Edwards at Whitton Primary school. Immersive learning through Percy Jackson into Ancient Greeks and mythology and making labyrinths for the minotaur.....all in all, memorable learning.
But it's pretty much free to address that problem if we allow the time to do it....everything around us is worth a LOOK, an exploration. Recording a moment in a journal, taking a photo, writing a snippet about it, noticing the world around. Awe and wonder is FREE if we want to open our eyes to it.
Last Wednesday I saw these here :-)
Really was stunned by the work. Been to a fair few exhibitions in my time and seen paintings and works of art I've seen in books in 'real life'. I was just struck by these cut outs more than other works before. Partly I think because I hadn't really appreciated how Matisse had worked them from books until I could actually got right up close and see. And ....the colours and shapes are fantastic. I love his flamboyant colours and the amazing seaweed frond shapes particularly. There's a lovely paragraph about the cut outs in the picture above where it's explained that Matisse wished for the cut out pieces to be arranged so they could blow freely in the wind. In his later years he was very keen to bring the outside in as he wasn't able to go outside anymore. He wouldn't to surround himself with nature's shapes and patterns-it made him feel good.
Below is a beautiful book well worth a look for YOU and for your children (class and family) - the story of how Matisse 'painted with scissors'.
"Are some of the stars we see at night coming from Henri Matisse's scissors? Perhaps"
So.... more colour and more WORKING BIG to give children a chance to explore space and all the rudiments of SHAPE not just the shape that you happen to be able to fit on an A4 piece of paper neatly in front of you at a table. Outside, in halls, on floors to make and create. These are not 'blobbish ideas'-allowing children to explore shape and colour, be JOYFUL in art is fundamental to their whole being....not just education in the smallest sense. It's the holidays soon so re group and get out your scissors and/or go visit The Tate for some colourful inspiration.
Cross over with http://www.storyshack.org but just a really simple idea which could lead into a world and wealth of creativity particularly round writing but also Geography, maths, science ..you name it map making imaginary worlds will get you there.
Above and below are some well known maps from fantasy stories-;Warrior Cats' series by Erin Hunter, 'Discworld series' by Terry Pratchett, 'Oliver and the sea wigs' by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre and 'Wolf Brother' by Michelle Paver. There are many more maps in many more books all of which make great starting points for creating new maps for imagery worlds. Great for 'big work' or small but often we don't give children a chance to spread out and make paper choices or 'where would I like to work' choices. Sometimes it's good to work standing up and 'pontificate' with a group map, sometimes you might want to sprawl across the floor in a bigger space but if children are cogitating, exploring, thinking and creating what's wrong with that? This is also a good chance to use up old coloured paper because then you already have an 'old' looking map which adds to the intrigue and interest. You can enhance this either in class with some strong tea and a willing teacher or TA to burn around the edges. Then you might want to think about where the map will be housed-in a ready made book with a pocket? In the front/back of a book? Rolled up as a scroll? Hidden in a treasure chest somewhere? Buried somewhere safe??
Children might like to think about what terrain they're going to place on their map. They can also learn about the different drawings you might use for a map i.e. rather than really detailed trees to de mark a forest it 's more symbolic-hence linking with key included in their map maybe? They can also spend some time thinking about who might inhabit this new world-are their clans/tribes who don't cross or do cross into each other's lands-bit of history in there too. There's so much more to map making and it can lead into many other avenues-importantly and hopefully ones the children themselves would like to follow. Lastly there's some great books around about lettering. Lettering and calligraphy is perhaps becoming less practised in schools yet children are usually very interested in different styles of lettering and maps are a great way to encourage some creativity and interest in producing something super special. The book below is just one and I know it's good because it's always popular in Story shack!