One thing I learned about the Peruvian classroom right away is that it is much less participatory than your average US classroom. Participation, critical thinking, and creativity are not encouraged in classes here like they are in the States. Teachers write notes on the board, kids write the notes in their notebooks, and that's about it. From working with the school district, I know that at least in Ascope, they are trying to change this. My school district is trying to support critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. This is a goal I support wholeheartedly. To do what I can in this regard, I asked the directora of the high school if I could teach summer art classes in addition to the English classes they asked me to teach. She was cool with it and gave me the classroom (I even got my own key!) and helped me promote my class ahead of time to get kids to come. She liked my cause of creativity and was very supportive, for which I am so grateful.
One thing I learned about the students right away is that they are better at art and more creative than they get credit for. The problem is not uncreative kids, it's kids who have not been asked to be creative before. Once I figured that out, I had a field day. Because kids are used to copying things, I started by having them draw cartoons that they could duplicate with step-by-step instructions. When they got bored with that and finished it way faster than I had planned, I figured out that I was the one who had to be more creative. With no funding for these classes, I had to be really thrifty. Most of our activities were paper/ pencil projects, but they didn't seem to mind. I did spend a few of my beach hours in January collecting seashells for the kids to make frames, which they loved, and I got a few random things that I could use in my class from a neighbor friend who wanted to help me out and had some random stuff sitting around that could be used for an art class. Fruit is cheap here, so I may have stopped at the market once or twice and made them draw fruit. Like I said, I had to get creative. Kids bore quickly. The easiest part of this class was the class time itself, what took way more time than I anticipated was the preparation. Like I said before, teachers work hard and they work a lot. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back with that statement. I'm more so saying, I could never be a full time teacher. For summer school though, this was perfect.
What I liked about our projects is that whenever I thought I had something that they would hate or that would be too hard for them, they loved it and it kept them very engaged. They never hated it. I liked challenging them, and I think they liked being challenged. At the end of the day, they had some pretty cool stuff. Off the top of my head I can remember doing the following: tessellations, cartoons, comic strips, crazy faces, seashell frames, Valentines, drawing to scale, drawing letters, collages, finishing the photo from a magazine picture cut in half, making a photo out of one shape on a page, designing product packaging, drawing fruit, using random objects to build things- then draw them, and drawing/ coloring a world map on a large scale. I'm forgetting a bunch, but you get the idea.
Anyway, as with the English class, the kids were great and we had a lot of fun. I had kids from age 7 to 17, so it was a bit of a balance to keep them all busy and engaged all the time, but that was part of the fun. It was a really relaxed atmosphere with a fun bunch of kids. Also like the morning class, after awhile, the kids really opened up and weren't afraid do take a few more risks. Sometimes it took some subtle pushing on my part to get them to think outside the box, but when it worked, it was awesome. For example, when drawing comic strips, one of my little 7 year olds was lost when it came to making a story. I asked her to start by picking out a few characters. She picked a cat and a mouse. Then I asked her what a mouse would have to say to a cat and she said, "Don't eat me!" Her story then turned into the cat chasing after the mouse, then running into a dog, at which point the cat says, "Don't eat me!" It's no Mafalda, but I was happy with it. Her creative process rubbed off on her brother who had chosen a dog and a lion. The dog asked the lion if it knew his dog relatives from Africa, because the lion was visiting from Africa, naturally. I liked that one too :) It was so much fun helping them out with that process and getting them to be creative.
In the end, I was really happy with our class and the kids were asking me to keep it going throughout the school year. I hope I can work with them on murals, coloring contests, or other art projects that will tie into my work with the Red Ambiental, but we will see. I also hope I can do this one again next summer. At least for me, it was a lot of fun and a great summer project.
He was one of our first projects. Minnie was there too.
Drawing to scale.
Fresh fruit in black and white.
Sex can wait, tessellate! :p
Building drawing models with random objects.