Session Three: Too busy ‘doing’ to stop & talk about what we were doing.

25th November 2016


To explore our immediate environment within a community context.

My overwhelming experience of this session is that in the final 30 minutes the children were too busy to stop and chat about what we were doing. Initially I did think ‘what about me!’ but then I thought Wow this is brilliant. Even from my observational point I could see that the children were totally engaged in what they were doing. The buzz of the chitter chatter. I listened to their constant hum and watched as they pointed, drew, moved about, repositioned themselves and worked together in small groups.

It has taken a few sessions to get comfortable. I literally mean physically comfortable. Number One I think best on my feet, sitting still staring at a computer screen is not my best stance. As we had set out on Virtually There I had thought that whilst the children worked in their classroom that I too would work in my studio whilst the session took place. This is impossible (so far). My complete focus needs to be on the observation of the class, even when I am not directly talking with the children. Also craning ones neck to hear better and automatically hoping up and down to get a better view I still have yet to learn not to do. Hence this image is generally my starting point, an upturned plastic container, my session plan in full view from my standing position and a few props at hand.

This week was World Book Week and the children were dressed in characters from children’s books thus it made it slightly easier and more amusing to identify specific children, especially if they were distracted!

I had set the children a task last week to draw their route to school from the perspective of a bird. The children had drawn their routes into their own journals. I think that Ms Harriott is able to incorporate what we do in Virtually There within the context of their daily activities which seems to support the curriculum. I had asked the children to draw the buildings along their routes so they could be more aware of what actual buildings and amenities are close to them. Once we had looked at the different drawings I asked them to list what were the important facilities and services that are need for town/city. Once we had begun to make the list I asked them to work in the small groups to develop further through drawing.

Each small group was given a sheet of A2 paper. I asked the children to draw their area, town or city using the school as a central point. I had thought that the children would expand their maps to include amenities that would be required in a town or community but they chose to focus on what was actually there. They can draw and write as they build their city/town. The children described the area around the school buildings. I should be able to find the exact place by their descriptions! The children mentioned the pylons next to the school. This I found wonderful and tried very unsuccessfully to discuss pylons further with the children. This possibly was my first real test in not being actually There. if I was There I perhaps not would have engineered a full length discussion and perhaps cajoled the children into responding creatively to them either through drawing or a simple maquette. Since early childhood I have found pylons to be one of the most delicate and elongated creatures as opposed to a blot on the landscape as the general public seem to think consider them. Still I shall create a series of drawings for myself as the children found something much more of interest to explore instead. I watched the children create their maps and I could hear snippets of their conversation. I was not able to see clearly what the children were drawing but I should get some images from Ms Harriot during the week.

The children’s drawings might be the beginning of the draft plans for ideas of a city. Later on (in a few weeks) we shall perhaps build a city together in 3D. I had planned on paper to ask the children to bring chalk out the playground and draw much larger maps outside but we didn’t quite get around to doing that and it also could be something I would like to do with the children myself on one of my visits to the school.

After the children returned from the playground I asked the children to describe what they saw in the three dance films I had sent links to in the previous session. Once again the children described beautifully through movement and oral language the motion of the different the dancers in each very different film. I am still considering in what way we shall bring our observations and experience of the fluid movement of flight into the work.

Birds in flight captured during the week……

On reflection of this session I realize that I need to look further at my own responsibility within the collaborative process. Do I exercise too much control in the content and the direction of what ‘we’ do’. I constantly query ‘collaboration’ the definition of and what actually happens within my practice.












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