Observation & Feedback in Rathfarnham, Session 6 & 7

At the end of the last session the children suggested that they build something similar again but this time just work in two large groups. Ideally they would like to build something more permanent too but as this is a classroom perhaps not. The teacher Carol and I were a little apprehensive as to whether the children would be able to work in such large groups as this would demand a lot of discussion, planning and compromising as they figured out what and how they were going to build.

The materials and set up were similar to the previous session with a few extra items like the rings from a giant game of Connect Four I found in the school. I also had extra pieces of insulation piping with fairy lights attached potentially adding the possibilities of using a night and day theme to the structures the children built. As an afterthought I would not have mentioned the lights until after the children had built their structures as the ideas of lights influenced the ideas of what to build a little to much.

The entire school day was given over to the process of creating and building of the two structures. The adults assisted the children in the construction but the design was given over to the children. On observation it seems the discussion and creating of ideas and working as two very large teams was a challenge for most of the children. I was doubtful as to whether the interest of the children was going to become distracted very quickly especially as some of the children were working on individual projects rather than working with the group. There was a number of arguments that were quickly resolved but it seemed that the children were not enjoying the experience as they had done in previous sessions. Once the structures had taken shape and the adults ensured that the structures were quite sound the children embarked on the customizing of their builds. This they did with much enthusiasm and many of the children who had not seemed to participate much in the building of the structures had been working on smaller individual projects and objects that were to be part of the end piece.

Thankfully we had left plenty of time at the end of the day to discuss what had happened during the session. Much to our surprise the majority of the children enjoyed this session more than any of any of the others sessions. They enjoyed the discussions and in some cases arguments and were able to see how another idea was actually better than their idea at the start. They each seemed to find a role for themselves and at times a bigger or smaller part in the decision making, building or decoration process.

If we had not had this discussion with the children at the end of the session I would not have considered that the children would work in such large groups again but thankfully we did but though we will once again be working on one large scale build there will be several smaller projects within the one build at the next session. I am now trying to figure out what and how we can build things are getting even bigger as they want to……. “walk in rather than crawl” Kaitlin.

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