Session Twelve: Talking And Listening


5th May 2017

Aim: To listen to the children express their perception of faith and belief that are a key theme within the artist’s practice.

Much of my work centres on the exploration of belief, faith, purpose and community. I wanted to begin a conversation with children around their understanding of God, belief and faith. I am interested in what shapes our sense of ourselves and how that is influenced and supported by a specific belief or external entity that exists outside of ourselves. How and when we come to reflect on this understanding of ourselves will be different for everyone. The children are aged 7 and 8 years and I wanted to know how the children see things today. I am sure they will have a very different perception or understanding in 2 years, 12 years or 22 years but today, the here and now is important in the lives of the children. I wanted to get a sense of what that is. It was extremely important that I listened to the children as they talked. Ms. Harriott and I had spoken about how to approach the theme and I felt that I needed her to guide me on this. The relationship between and children’s teacher and I, is so important to the scope and depth of the collaborative process.

I wanted to hear the children’s use of language, their words and feelings as they expressed themselves. In my experience young children absorb so much which they process internally before they offer it back to discuss or question. I didn’t wish to ask leading questions or give the children too much information that what they offered was what they thought I wanted to hear. We had already talked about the sacrament they made this year and how they had celebrated with their families. Hence the theme was a little familiar within the context of the Virtually There sessions.

It was a little unusual for the children to be presenting to me for the entire session. Normally I am on the whiteboard as such with a list of instructions but not today. I introduced the sessions by showing the children what I had put in another package that I would post after the session for next week. We then asked the children what did they think about when they talked to God or what they thought about when they were in the church. We also asked what words they would use to describe how they felt when the made their First Confession. I did struggle a little with the sound quality but Ms. Harriott wrote down what the children and has transcribed this beautifully in her journal. (Thank you)

As the children became more comfortable with the theme they offered more personal experiences and feelings rather than repeating stories from the bible. There were some key words and sentiments that were mentioned quite a few times.

“God is everywhere”

“God is kindness”

 “God is in they things that people do”

 “God will always love you no matter what bad thing you do” – this I feel is extremely important for a child, they are very complex and think and feel things very deeply.

Jesus’ mother Mary was a prominent figure in the minds of the children.

I was surprised at how naturally the conversation flowed despite being virtually there. I felt very much there with them in the classroom. I felt very privileged with how much the children shared with Ms. Harriott and I. The session was slightly shorter than normal due to an unexpected event in the school. The entire session revolved around talking, thinking and reflecting. We didn’t make with our hands but we formed ideas and concepts. I set the children a little homework. To draw or illustrate an image from the things we talked about today.

I wanted this session to be about the children and I didn’t want to share my perceptions with them. They did ask what did I talk to God about or ask God for? I said I prayed for patience but I did have to think about it for a while as perhaps I ask for patience from somewhere out there in the ether when I can’t find any within myself.

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