Date: 24 July 2020
Facilitator: Uma Viswanathan [Chief Operating Officer, NalandaWay Foundation, Chennai]
Modality: Interactive online session through Google Meet
Objectives of the Session
The aim of this session was to have a discussion on the following topics:
- Role of art in students’ learning.
- Art for the emotional well-being of learners.
- Creating a happy and fear-free classroom.
Art helps children in the development of their language and mathematical abilities, in the improvement of their motor skills and social skills, and in facilitating and nurturing their creativity and imagination. More importantly, art creates a happy and fear-free classroom—a must for any learning to happen. Art not only enables children to express themselves, but it also provides them an opportunity to empathize and build relationships with their peers. According to some studies pertaining to child psychology and theories of child development, the creativity and imagination of a child is extremely high up to 8 years of age. Teachers in primary schools can develop those skills in these early stages by giving equal weightage to arts and academics and not relegating art to merely an extra-curricular activity. Art has the potential to make learning interesting and exciting, and it can be integrated with academics easily in order to assist in learning all subjects.
In Language and Math Classrooms
Art is all around us—in our homes, in the playground, in the streets; everywhere. As it is something that children witness all around, they are able to relate better when we use art in teaching. So, art can be utilized effectively in classrooms while teaching language as well as math. In language classrooms, the employment of art can be through picture descriptions, stories, role plays, dramas, matchstick drawings, among other things. For math, using different real-life objects, such as vehicle tyres, marbles, etc., will help with the introduction of shapes, patterns, and other things as well. The following is an activity through which patterns and fractions can be taught using art.
Activity 1: Art in Math Learning
In this activity, the students will get the opportunity to identify the patterns around them and choose such patterns on their own. Each student’s drawing will be unique. As this activity incorporates drawing while teaching fractions as well as patterns, students will learn these concepts unconsciously with joy. This activity can be used as an assessment to check whether the students can follow instructions and understand the concepts. The students should be made to follow the instructions given below for this activity.
- Draw an outline of this type of picture on their own (The picture given alongside can be used).
- Fill ½ of the house with a checked pattern.
- Fill ½ of the chimney with a vertical strip.
- Fill ¼ of the fence with a horizontal strip.
- Fill the object or things that they have drawn with other different patterns of their choice.
Activity 2: Art in EVS
- The students shall be asked to imagine how a branch of a tree, which had been cut, would look like, and they should draw it on a piece of paper (The picture card given alongside can be used).
- They should fill each color inside the rings using watercolours or colour pencils.
- The teacher can then discuss about the rings and what they mean, i.e., the total number of rings represents the age of the tree, the thickness of the rings represents the amount of rainfall in that year.
- The students can then have a discussion among themselves as to why some tree rings have greater width and which tree is older.
- Finally, the students can be asked to think and draw how it would look when a tomato, or anything else, is cut.
Art can be a useful tool to create a happy and a fear-free classroom. An unfamiliar environment, the fear of their teachers, the bullying by their peers, the diminished scope for playing—any of these things could be the reason behind children being fearful in the classroom. When we plan activities, we could try to make it a group activity so that the children can do it together while discussing and enjoying themselves. This will also facilitate peer learning, helping develop relationship between peers. A fear-free classroom must give children an opportunity to explore. It should give them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. In the art classroom, not providing an eraser to the children could be practiced so that they are not afraid to make a mistake.
The “Promise tree” activity can be done by the students to manage the classroom and make it fear free. The students should be asked not to shout and fight among themselves and to listen to their teacher. Even the teacher should make a promise that they will not scold or hit the children. After making a promise, the teacher and the students should make a thumb impression on the promise tree. Whenever the students do not follow the rules, the teacher should bring their attention to the promise tree and make them remember their promise. After this activity was done in one of our classrooms, one child came up to the teacher and reminded her of her promise to not scold the children. This is an apt example of the nature of a fear-free classroom where a student was able to express himself without fear. Such freedom to express themselves should be nurtured among children in classrooms.
Children come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Sometimes, the conditions for their proper development may be unfavorable; they may have to see their parents fighting at home, they may be bullied by others. However, young children should have a positive emotional state so that when they grow up, they will become stronger and be able to manage their emotions well. Children who are not emotionally stable tend to become more vulnerable once they become adolescents. Art can be helpful in the well-being of children by making them achieve a positive emotional state. Meditation, gratitude, drawing a self-portrait are some activities that can be practiced in the classroom to enhance the emotional well-being of children.