Friday, 22 July 2011

Fish in Trees

"I feel about as local as a fish in a tree" sang John Sebastian on one of the first albums I ever loved. 
Einstein's aphorism has been resonating in my head since I posted it at the head of this blog a couple of months ago. Like all simply stated truths you can pick holes in it - there are, after all, fish that can climb trees... But Sir Ken Robinson recently published an entire book expanding on this one idea - that people perform best when they find the thing they love to do. 

Two of the main drivers behind this blog are two ideas. First that I realised that making media was what I loved to do and second, that I was not alone in this.  Two stories will illustrate this:

Tim was a child with many abilities. He liked to write and tell stories, he loved drawing, painting and making music. He liked talking and working with other people. The problem was that he had no one passion to follow  - he had more than one Element . This meant that choosing one of these as the basis of a career meant not doing all the others - and to be very good at something does require single-mindedness. So he became a teacher and this came as near as it was possible to using all these Elements. Unfortunately lots of other stuff he was less interested by (and much less good at) came as part of the package too. In the end he realised he was fundamentally a maker.
After discovering digital movie making he realised that what he was really good at was... being quite good at lots of things and that this was just what was needed in being a film maker. 

Jenny (9) was lent a Digital Blue camera to take home. Her teacher and the project workers had asked her to film a place that was special to her. She recorded the whole six minutes of video the camera allowed in her bedroom and took it back to her school. There she downloaded it onto a computer. Her teacher said that there was no need to edit the film because footage featured a continuous narrative about her bedroom and the things she liked there. Everyone was very pleased with her: her Mum, the project worker but especially her teacher because, he said, in the two years he had been teaching Jenny he had never heard her speak...

Jenny's story was told me by a team working on a Creative Partnerships project a few years ago.The story is an extremely dramatic one - which, of course, is why I keep telling the tale; but for me it represents the numerous, less dramatic stories I've witnessed. Children who find it hard to record their ideas in the ways that the school curriculum requires - mainly written text - but who find a voice through the visual or the aural storytelling that film allows. 

So I'll print my poster out next term, for the rooms I work in and for my M.A.D. project team (more anon). You are welcome to do the same - just click on the image to download and it should print out nicely on A4, or A3 if enlarged. It will serve to remind us that most of the children we work with have abilities and interests that need nurturing and that one of our most important jobs as teachers is to help them find and use their talents and to feed and water them with encouragement, support and challenge.

Meanwhile this blog will be fall relatively silent over the next few weeks as I spend a bit of time nurturing myself. Enjoy your summer!