NOV – DEC 2011 REPORT:
Arts and crafts classes
My classes in Andhra Pradesh have run for 3 years now and this consolidation of knowledge has been extremely satisfying for me and I believe useful for the students who have retained and built on the techniques they have learned in these art labs. Art is vital for the children’s greater education; it is a subject where they are encouraged and even compelled to think for themselves. I am very careful never to have them copy what I do, instead I demonstrate and teach techniques and then they have to elaborate and build upon this using their own imaginations. I believe strongly in challenging the children, I expect a lot from them and they always supersede what they original perceive to be their own capabilities. Classes are kept deliberately small, 10 – 12 students per class to allow time for a one to one teaching ratio that I believe really benefits the students.
Some projects we developed this year:
Each child was given a mirror and encouraged to scrutinise their own faces and to draw from life what they see, the idea being they should reflect a little on their own individual identities as well as developing hand – eye coordination. This is not an easy exercise but the students gained enormous satisfaction by being able to create a visible likeness of themselves and they took a lot of pride in this exercise.
As a counterpoint to all the focus on the individual from the self-portrait exercise, I decided to counterbalance this with a group drawing exercise. Each class was split into groups of 5 and had to select one of the group to lie on a giant sheet of paper and have his or her body shape traced. Then it was a question of filling in the silhouette. The face had to be a portrait of one of them, but the rest, the clothing and the background would have to be invented by the group. The idea of the project was to encourage teamwork and negotiation. They had to make group decisions about what they would draw etc…it also taught them that if they worked together as a team that they could create far more ambitious and elaborate drawings. Again the children took a lot of pride, care and attention in this exercise.
Children were introduced to the art of origami, they had first to create the decorative paper themselves and then they learned various folding techniques in order to create decorative shapes ideal for Christmas decorations. This was particularly satisfying as I noticed the children passing on these techniques and spreading the skills beyond my art classes. Also the technique is very practical as it requires no special or extra materials and can be carried on throughout the year.
Creative Computer Programme classes:
This year I taught 4 different batches of students in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator programmes with students ranging from 4th to 10th class and post school age.
Due to a new school policy of encouraging even the youngest of students to become familiar with computer skills and thanks to the purchase of some powerful new computers by Fondazione Zegna, this year I focused a lot of attention on computer classes. I ran for the first time Photoshop classes for beginners concentrating on the creative nature of these programmes encouraging, as ever, the students to think and create for themselves and not to merely copy or repeat lessons, catching them young with the idea that they can have many years of extra tuition as they progress through their school careers.
Photoshop is actually a valid and extremely vocational skill to be learned for young Indian students. As well as the fact that Andhra Pradesh (or namely Hyderabad) is a centre for information technology, there is also a flourishing industry for Photoshop artists who work in tandem with photographers to create fantasy albums for special events such as wedding ceremonies etc…
Once the students leave school if possible they go to college but after that they are on their own, e it is vital to arm them with as many skills as possible to help them in their adult life. In order to create even more desirable potential employees, I encouraged the older students to be as versatile as possible by learning other graphic programmes such as Adobe Illustrator. The more programmes these kids learn now, the better their CVs for future employment…