One of the most important things about being creative, I think, is making connections. It’s an issue that I find most challenging in my role as a middle school teacher and I’m constantly working on ways to get young people to think in this way. Think in ways that they rarely get to practice.
This is one of the projects in my lateral thinking folder and it’s always super fun and engaging. I think the kids actually surprise themselves and are amazed at what they can actually think of!
We start with art smocks! Ink and year 7s don’t mix. With a range of different coloured inks, we used brushes and straws to create a series of random splats. It’s important to not tell the kids what they’re going to do with them.
Charcoal in hand, they then study each splat and turn it into an image that they can see. It often turns into a bit of a group task, with friends suggesting ideas for each other but they’re all thinking and before you know it, suggestions are bouncing all over the room. Arguments erupted too, with “Nooo, it’s a dog!!” “What??? Noooo, I see a shoe!!”
Of course, there’s never a right or wrong answer. And to me, that’s the reason I teach art. There aren’t always correct answers in life and it takes everyone’s individual perspective to solve problems, to connect the seemingly unconnected and give birth to new ideas. Art isn’t just about learning how to draw. To me, it’s about learning how to observe the world around us and understanding that everything is connected in some way and it’s up to us to discover how.