Beauty Related Activities in IE Schools

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IE Activities Helpful in Developing Beauty

To develop beauty in children, the following are a few of the activities that were useful in Auroville schools:

Moving with Music

This helps the children to become conscious of their body which moves harmoniously with the music. The sense of music and rhythm gets improved in the process. The vital [seat of emotions] is more controlled by the influence of the music and the concentration level improves. Mentally, they are more open for a little complicated composition. Therefore increase of attention span will be noticeable. On moving freely with the music, the children use their imagination and perform by connecting their inner being with music; this contact with the music and their imagination keeps them in contact with their psychic being. [1]

Choir Singing

Choir members have the opportunity to learn about singing and music making, and can develop their voices and the ability to sing in tune with other harmonies. Choir singing also brings many different types of benefits to the singers: it tones and stimulates the heart and the breath, it releases endorphins, brings joy, balancing the emotional and mental planes of the being.The aim is to promote human unity and to foster a more harmonious collectivity through the joy of singing together, while working to refine singing and develop musicality. [2]

Clean-up Campaigns

Two clean up campaigns can be organized in a year to create awareness and instill in the children a sense of beauty of the environment. The importance of keeping our environment clean and beautiful are better understood through such exercises. [3]

Education through Arts

Art Garden

The main goal with this project is to take art outside and to induce the theme of respect for others, for our environment, for materials and for ourselves. The Art Garden will be an opportunity to teach the kids how to upcycle or to take items that would be waste and turn them into beautiful art. Students of grades 5-8 can experiment with a variety of drawing techniques, painting and sculpture- which develops the faculty of beauty in them. Through guided projects the students can be given the freedom to express themselves in creating works of art. As part of their art curriculum the students can learn about significant works of art from various cultures, times and places through slide shows and documentaries. Thus they learn to compare styles of art and develop their own personal preferences in art which builds their aesthetic sense. [4]

Recycled Craft

The Kindergarten children can get into the habit of using a lot of things from nature including seeds, pods, bark, and dry leaves for crafts and collages. A cupboard can be reserved for stocking all clean containers— empty shampoo bottles, liquid soap bottles and plastic food containers are used as sand toys. In the entire process children learn what is considered waste material can be used to make beautiful things. [5]

Air-Brush Technique and Painting of Murals

This class will include art techniques of color theory, composition, drawing, perspective, watercolor sketches, acrylic paint, airbrush technique and painting of murals. Discussion is carried out on the need for proportion and size of murals, as they have to be visible from far, and explore color theory and the choice of paints for external walls. This activity builds the aesthetic and spatial sense in the children. [6]

Mandals/Decoration/Patterns

Making mandalas with different designs and materials (like flowers, leaves, seeds, coloured tiles, stones) helps develop the children's visual perception with colours/designs and a sense of beauty. [7] (under sense of beauty and concentration)

Land Art

Contact with Nature allows the innate qualities of the children to remain clear and creative in the way of ‘free progress’. Children can do creative land art at gardens. It is an approach to art in Nature using what Nature gives. This ephemeral Art develops the creation of the ‘here and now’, avoiding the desire for possession related to his/her own creation. Creation is Universal and free from attachment. [8] (under Land art at Auroville Botanical Gardens)

Each child could choose those activities that interested him/her and with the respective teacher. The older students could choose from various crafts classes: pottery, origami, wood carving, carpentry, painting, beads-works, and nature crafts. The constant atmosphere of assistance, creativity and openness will nurture certain values in them like love, care, confidence, concentration and openness towards new ideas. They begin to respect their own space and others too. The wonder of creation makes them happy and content. [9]

Painting with Children

Eight to fifteen children of mixed age groups paint freely together with a few adults in a safe space enclosed in big vertical panels that shelters the inner necessity of expression from all distractions. No subject or theme is imposed. In the center of the room is a Table-Palette with eighteen pots of paint of different colors and special brushes. Arno Stern discovered that it is only in these specific conditions that the inner language of the organic memory can manifest itself as a set of 70 signs that he calls ―Formulation. Through this essential process, a transformation of the being can start whatever the age, nationality or cultural background of the person. [10]

Clay work

Children can get the opportunity to explore the pottery wheel. Students of different ages will enjoy the process and find the experience extremely creative, calming and enriching. Clay work gives an opportunity for students to freely express something deep within themselves and to come in contact with one's psychic being. Working with clay demands a lot of concentration and patience along with the ability to visualize. All of the participants (including trainers) will enjoy the special atmosphere (i.e. relaxed, camaraderie, supportive, and harmonious) which will nourish their creative capacities. [11]

Activities Around Nature

Through Flowers

The children can be taken to a nursery or a garden full of flowers. They should be allowed to move around freely and observe nature’s beauty. They are encouraged to observe every minute detail of the parts of flowers — colour, smell, form, feel etc. They can be told about a few easy spiritual names given to the flowers by the Mother. On the way back, they can collect a few flowers and make a beautiful arrangement out of it— a great way to bring a child in touch with his psychic being; A set of cards with pictures of familiar flowers along with their respective names as given by the Mother can be bought for the morning circle time. Two children pick a card each, from the set. The teacher will then read the name of the flowers explaining to them what it meant. The names of the two flower cards selected will be the two qualities for the class to focus upon for the day. This greatly helps children to connect to these qualities and allow them to take shape within them. [12]

Harvesting Crops

The children can be taken to the fields to harvest crops, where they will be exposed to the way people work and the steps involved – plucking the plants, separating the shell from the plants, opening the shells to separate the seeds. The whole day can be spent there; some children helping the workers, some just observing, some just being in the environment doing their own things like free drawing. Others can go out for a nature walk around the farm to pluck and eat their favourite fruits. [13]

Nature Walks

Children in the Kindergarten group can be made to spend time with nature. Children in this age group are very receptive and should be exposed to the element of beauty as much as possible. Morning walks in the fields, smelling flowers on their way, listening to the birds chirp, feeling the chill in the air are some of the activities that foster the sense of beauty. [14]

Night Walks

Sometimes the students are taken for full moon walks around Auroville, where they experience the adventure of getting to know how places are at night time and what types of animals, birds, reptiles and other creatures live next to their existing environment. Star-gazing and getting lost in the quietude of night time are beautiful experiences. The creative streak comes alive through such activities.They learn to appreciate the beauty of stillness and darkness—when everything around them seems to be asleep yet awake. [15]

Heritage Tours

Such tours instil the beauty of wonder in the students by visiting temples and other places of historic importance. It is good to take them out for educational tours and expose them to first hand knowledge rather than studying about the same in books. For instance, in Auroville schools, all the staff and students had a one day heritage tour to Thirukovilur, Arakandanalur and Adhi Thiruvarangam about 90 kilometers distance from Auroville. [16]

Examples of Other Field Trips in Auroville Schools

Revelation Forest, Auroville

On one of the field trips, a group of students and teachers went to Revelation, where they were taken on a walk through the forest and showed the work that has been doing there for many years. They were shown how carefully planned bunding and small dams stop erosion and collect the rainwater, so that it can replenish the aquifer. The thousands of planted trees hold the soil with their roots, and falling leaves create healthy topsoil. All kinds of animals and birds are attracted to this sanctuary. The ultimate goal is to re-establish the tropical dry evergreen forest of indigenous species that used to cover this land long ago. Such field trips and first hand observations stir children’s imagination and make them much more aware. [17]

Field Trip to Adyar Ponga Throughout the last 2 years the children had been studying elements of Environmental Science. This culminated in a trip to Adyar Poonga, an eco-park in Chennai which is the result of the restoration of the vegetation of the freshwater eco-systems of the Adyar River and estuary. This was a very uplifting experience. The students saw that with attention and hard work even areas which had been made into ecological disasters could be restored. [18] (under Farms, forests and gardens)

Celebrating Festivals

Festivals like Navarathri, Deepavali, Pongal, Christmas and New Year days can be celebrated bringing out their inner significance. Independence Day and Sri Aurobindo’s birthday on 15th August, and Republic Day on 26th January are also celebrated. [19] (under activities of the year)

References

  1. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.32)
  2. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Centre_for_Research_in_the_Performing_Arts
  3. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Kuilapalayam_Cultural_Centre
  4. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Transition_School
  5. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/a/a5/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2016-17.pdf (p.26)
  6. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Kalabhumi_Open_Art_Studio
  7. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2016:Nandanam_Kindergarten
  8. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Aikiyam_School
  9. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Faculty_Development_Through_Crafts
  10. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.104)
  11. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.106)
  12. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.38)
  13. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Aha!_Kindergarten
  14. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.45)
  15. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Kuilapalayam_Cultural_Centre (under night walks)
  16. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.71)
  17. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.9)
  18. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Transition_School
  19. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Arulvazhi_Education_Centre