Session Three: Tension

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Artist: Helen Barry, School: Muslim N.S. 2nd Class

Balancing the tension became a strong component of both the dynamic between the children and the pieces that were being constructed. The primary focus of our third session was to explore our building materials and approach to construction through large-scale builds. I had a broader selection of materials than the previous session that would enable the constructions to be more stable. The children were asked to build structures that they felt would be needed in a community or city. This would initially demand a discussion between each of the 5 groups of children.

As with all groups the mix of individuals determine the dynamic within the groups. Some of the groups took to building with an identified structure in mind, others disagreed on a common goal, others started to build and the form or structure identified afterwards and others changed their minds several times and created many structures. Most of the groups built structures that offered a resource for a community rather than an individual. One building that has been a facility often mentioned is a crèche with a playground. Other structures included a big top, a submarine, a cargo shipping container and trucks, a zoo, a shopping centre, a cinema and lots of other spaces and places that got transformed into something else during the process. Each build took planning to create their ambitious ideas and some of the children showed a strong aptitude for engineering and for others the attention was drawn to how we engage and use a space that determined the shape of the structure.

At the end of the session each group was given the opportunity to present what they had created and how they found the process to the whole class. It was evident that the children were proud of what they created and that they had a strong sense of achievement. The process was challenging for some more so than others. More often than not my collaborative work with children creates on a large-scale size that demands the full involvement of the teacher but it is the teacher understanding and expertise of the children that is so crucial to the process especially as what I take into the classroom is developed through discussion and compromise. As my own exploration of how we learn progresses I am finding the observation of how the teacher facilitates the interactions between the children an invaluable learning opportunity.

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