On Children and Art
Its coming to the end of term now, and I am amazed at how many giant steps my kids have taken since my arrival in January, and what amazing individuals they are. Time has flown by ridiculously fast!
There were several moments today, where I found myself a bit choked up, particularly at the thought of working with them next semester, and the possibility of taking them to my home country, and showing them around London, and teaching them to scuba dive. They are each such different characters, and I feel emotionally attached to each and every one of them, even though I have never been particularly maternal and have never liked children very much. But they are all so much fun in their own ways, and I am especially fond of the naughty kids, who go about the school doing all the things that I wish I had done when I was their age. Instead, I was always good as gold, which was in hindsight very boring indeed!!
Last week was International Children’s Day, which I sadly was unaware of, but it sounds like a very cool day, so I want to post this blog in honour of all the children in the world. And also on behalf of all the children I have met throughout my life, the children at the rural schools in Tamil Nadu, the children at the orphanage in the West Indies, the cub scouts in Britain, and all the children I taught to climb. Each and every one of them left a mark on me some how, and has helped to mould me into the person I am now.
Its great to spend the day with children, especially free range Georgian children. They have a unique way of looking at the world, and follow their emotions, so much, that you never know quite what to expect, and it makes every day a barrel of fun.
One of my naughty little boys, who is 6years old, has recently been leaving me little post-it notes, and most importantly, he asked my Co-teacher how to write ‘I love you’ in English. He really struggles with writing, and the English letters are really painful for him, so it makes the little notes even more precious. He was the naughtiest boy in the class when I arrived, and is not very confident. So I decided to use the smiley chart with his class, and he really loves this, and is always so proud to get smileys for paying attention. There has been a massive difference in his behaviour, and he no longer jumps around the classroom, but is now the first person to sit down at his desk and to volunteer to write on the blackboard. Its moments like that which make everything worth while, and make me proud, and I am even starting to feel like a teacher now, which is a wonderful feeling. I think one of the trickiest lessons I learnt here in Georgia, is that its always better to focus on and praise the positives, rather than to focus on the negatives. Its like Solution Focused Brief Therapy, or something along those lines!
My 8th grade have one of the shabbiest classrooms ever, and the walls are terrible, but the kids always manage to do something to make it feel warm and welcoming. Sometimes they bring in plants in pots, and sometimes they put up pictures on the wall. They are very creative and musical, and you never know what to expect with them each lesson. Today, on entering the room, it was actually very cool to see the whole classroom covered in little white hearts which they had drawn on the walls in chalk. I do not usually approve of people drawing on walls, but in this case I wanted to credit them for their creativity, and for doing what they could to brighten up their dingy classroom. With any luck, it will be up for redecoration over the summer break, but if I had the money, this would be one of the first classrooms I would overhaul, and I am longer to buy some paintbrushes and paints and to spend my summer redecorating the building! It would be ace to get some bookshelves and some books or posters for the classroom.
In the Russian sector, the style of teaching is less creative, and more authoritarian or passive, and whilst this is a benefit to most of the students, there are some visual learners who are struggling with classes. I wanted to inject some fun with my third graders, so now, we draw all the new vocabulary on the blackboard before the lesson starts, and then label it in English and Russian. The kids love this, and even the weakest students love to draw, so it seems to be a good technique. In the past, they were completely lost in class when they did not know the basic vocab, so this is a different way of making their learning more active, and revising it. They are really good at drawing, and its amazing how much attention they pay to the little details.
My 7th grade class were given a topic from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for their homework, and as groups had to come up with a poster. Here is a little display of their work. Pretty impressive in my view, especially since they all did their homework!
I love my school, and goodness knows what masterpieces the kids will be producing in the future!! And if any of the Ministers happen to be reading this, then please gve us paint and brushes and we will happily decorate our school☺