Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I want children to have their stories with them that they want to say about themselves. What is it that they want to say about themselves? What is it that makes them “them”? Till now I was looking for big things I think, expecting too much. Simplest things would be the most powerful things-ordinary is extraordinary.

We miss a person-which is ordinary. The way Shashikala missed her Akka in school was ordinary-her thoughts/feelings inside her made her do ordinary. We miss ordinary the most. Ordinary makes us “us”.

The small flame of a lamp gives Vijaykumar the idea of oneness. The little flame became extraordinary after Vijaykumar’s thought.

Kanniyamma’s one straight line-“I want to be free like air” says it all.
I think there is so much in these simple straight words, which can be carried forward for their stories. I think it would be good to take their thoughts form Summer Camp forward for their identities and stories.

Accepting their thoughts, would be the way to proceed ahead.


Kids listening, watching, thinking, doing.
I just sat and drew after one class, I was so frustrated from inside about how the workshop was being facilitated. So I just sat and drew and drew.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Panel meeting

-Reflect more on Summer Camp-see what you have got, because you are saying much more than what you have shown in the blog
-Look at the challenges that you faced or foresee.
-What themes you came about?

-Discuss with kids about COST-many topics may come up like consumerism, politics, cost of living etc. you may have to prepare a little before this.
How does it get decided that a garment costs so much? (This may help them later if they take up embroidery later)

How will they get access to materials? Like you have collected old clothes from Srishti crowd, how will they get access to old clothes or threads? Get them to discuss this, they may pool in some money and buy material and work.

-Organize the tools that you have used, what worked and what did not work and what will work and why? This kind of documentation would help someone who comes from outside reflects on it and knows what will work.

-Think of how you have incorporated feedback/reflections the next day

See what you had planned? How it has changed? Would you still want to do what you had planned--justify very clearly. Are there any new ideas? Be open to new ideas, if there is an idea that would help these kids in their lives then go ahead with it.

-Discuss how they see themselves in what kind of clothes (present/future)-what is the way of interaction with society now and how would it change if they can do something fantastic to old clothes? How society will change its view.

-May be you can do a small fashion show in the end when they had made their clothes, a photo shoot with them.

-Ask them if they feel other kids also need this kind of workshop-What kind of kids would need? What would they need?

-When you have a full day of work with them, keep an hour for discussion.

-Take two days to get everything out of your system, reflect-do it intensively

-I agree with Krupa that you must look at your proposal again and re-write it. Now do a small activity with them. Give them all their work that they have done and tell them to look through this work and find a work and say "I am proud.....", let each child say this, let them say what they feel proud of. Their dreams will come out this way more rather than say "hey! what's your dream?"

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I feel stuck now. How do I get children to say more about their dreams? They have similar dreams as they have similar problems. The last day's question about "Who is myself" brought out some inner feelings of these children. What kind of activites/questions will help them reflect their inner self? How can I go deep in this area with kids? They have done one round of activities relating to dreams. How do I incorporate dreams with identity. I am thinking about more activities/questions, I hope I will figure out soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I was clearing my head about "Avant-Garde". I found something very interesting that I would want to incorporate in my project.

It has been in the search of the absolute that the avant-garde has arrived at "abstract" of "nonobjective" art and poetry too. The avant-garde artist or poet tries in effect to imitate God by creating something valid solely on its own terms, the way nature itself is valid, in the way a landscape-not its picture-is aesthetically valid, something given, increate, independent of meanings, similar or originals. Content is to be dissolved so completely into form so that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.


Day nine-ten

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day seven-eight(younger group)

With younger group,I gave them one day to revise their stitches and practise all the stitches they have learnt before. The next day, they drew the objects they first touched in the morning and embroider it. Some of them almost finished embroidering the sketch of the object. They were exposed to planning the stitches on their design.

Day seve-eight(elder group)

This activity started well when kids had to make paper snowflakes. They had fun doing that, and it did not take them long to do snowflakes. The planning of the design with stitches took them a little longer.

I discovered, that they need to be exposed to hierarchy in color. Some of them used 7-10 colors and the design looked hodge podge.

Some thoughts

Summary of first week
This week seemed really long for some reason. I got familiarized with kids and their ways of working.
I figured there are three kinds of kids in this group.
First: those who were not very interested in doing embroidery but they have to do it because they have been put in this course.
Second: there are kids who really want to do embroidery but they struggle with conceptual thinking, the exercises and the practice of embroidery, they take time to do work but they try and keep themselves going.
Third: kids who are very interested and are good with conceptual thinking and embroidery but they lack visualization power. Theyfinish their work, which is a good thing.

I have been very frustrated, stressed, worried to see these kids that they have not been able to draw naturally. They think so much about the correct line and the wrong line.
All of them draw the same visuals? Some of them don’t think that it is their own work (issue of ownership). When they try to explain their work, they parrot what they hear from others in the class. (Issue of conformity) They are not free. I see some of them struggling and some of them taking things for granted (the first level of coming to grips with challenges in learning just like students of art and design everywhere?). I am learning about myself while working with these children. I am questioning my own understanding of learners and my own methods of facilitating them more and more.
Do I need to expect anything from these kids?
What is this Summer Camp about?
Do I keep my emotions and reactions aside while working with them?
There are so many things that I want to work out with them and everyday I discover new things that should be worked on with these kids, for instance how am I to break the methodology that has become so structured which is making their thinking limited.

How do I work on principles of design with them? I discovered that Nandini and Suvarna are motivated to learn and are good with conceptualization but when it comes to using colors, they have very little sensibility? Sometimes when you try to work well, you try to do much and add so much that it loses its essence. That is what is happening with them.

There are so many things that I want to tell them, but time restricts me and it irritates me. I know I need to make the best use of time and plan well and try to do what is possible to achieve in any given time. I know a lot can be achieved; I just need to plan better.

There is a huge gap in the thinking levels of the children. I wonder how there is such a huge gap. What are the reasons? The immediate need is to help them expand their minds in terms of conceptualization and visualization which I am finding tougher to do as it is difficult to mould their minds and it takes time. They need to observe more closely the things around them and ask more questions that come from their own curiosity and not as a standard response but they don’t do it. There is also a need to get them to use what they learn more intensively as they do not connect the learning’s from one activity to another (issue of interconnections).

Tools like graph paper which enables them to do geometric designs more easily or if they are asked to use art and design devices like only wavy lines in different ways to give a different feel to what they are seeking to articulate, the use of cut-paper snowflakes which holds a surprise element as they don’t know what design will be created by cutting paper in different ways. It is only after understanding some basics that they can use, for instance, paper snowflakes to do appliqué work, embroidery work, and printing. These tools can be used any point of time to come up with designs but it will not make sense if these tools/learnings are not been used.
It is easy to just show them a skill or teach. But they need to discuss more, share more, read more, see more, do more and do more faster.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day five-six


she did only one round of sketches

element: Earth
Her anger is like when Earth gets angry and there is earthquale. (She says sometimes she starts throwing utensils in the house :P) BUt at the same time, it cools down after some time.


initial sketches

second round of sketches

chosen pattern embroidered
She is easy going, she tried to show small ripples


initial sketches

sketches in second round

embroidery from chosen pattern
she is motivated, and like a sea who absorbs everything inside

A lot of kids struggled with visuals as well as recognizing the key words that relate to them with the element, especially the younger kids struggled. But some of them managed to explore visuals using only wavy lines. A lot of time went in doing visuals, so the fifth day got over with just the pencil drawings and a bit of planninng of stitches they were going to use for their visuals. They were told to start embroidery at home as they had a weekend.

On the day sixth some children came with interesting embroidery, I gave them time to embroider on the sixth day (that is Monday), it becomes difficult for them to take out time at home to embroider as a lot of them go with their parents for work in the evening. It was important for me to sit with them to help them look at the possibilities of combining different stitches, while younger kids spent time finishing their geometric designs.

I think children could do this exercise without doing mind-map, as it consumed a lot of time. They could have just said why they wanted to be a particular element, that was enough.

to see activities click here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day four

Today was the day when things worked out better than the other days. I noticed one thing, when they are given time to think quietly, they don't generally stay quiet. one has to keep reminding them they are suppose to be quiet to avoid distraction. But today, the moment they started embroidering, everyone was quiet and so involved in their work that it did not seem that there were 20 children sitting in a room.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What do I have after three days

What have I got in these days of workshop:

· I know about each kid’s way of working.

· I know their fears, dreams, and hopes. Most of the girls hope that they don’t have to leave school to do domestic work to earn money, they may have to leave any day. Some of them expressed themselves beautifully like association with sea, how sea takes inside everything, the other girl said how she was limited before drishya, it was like black and white but she sees colors and she wants to keep growing. They dream to grow and be independent and continue studying in drishya. Some boys have similar fears as girls.

· They try hard to visualize their feelings and emotions, but they need some more guidance and exposure. They can think well.

· They work better in small groups

· I have their associations with objects and nature.

· Their skill to embroider has to be made strong too as they have very limited vision to use stitches.


Day three

Day 3

Kids have been asking me when the embroidery will begin. They are eagerly waiting, since they have only two weeks to do it. So I thought I would plan something simple and fun, as they found the previous two days exercises difficult.

I collected bulk of clothes from Srishti crowd that they don’t wear any more, not because the clothes are torn but they don’t fit in them anymore. I collected a wide range of clothes. I was amazed at how much clothes people throw away without using much, and on the other hand people don’t have enough clothes to protect themselves to save from biting cold and sweltering summer.

I displayed a range of clothes in the class and told kids to choose the clothes that they would want to see themselves in. I though they may hesitate to choose sleeveless or short tops but they happily chose all kind of clothes. Boys mostly chose illustrated t-shirts.

I told them to embroider a pouch that they will use with the clothes they chose, and they can only use simple running stitch and chain stitch (fast stitches). I told them they can embroider a motif that says something about them. (But I think I kept it too open-ended)The pouch was supposed to be made from waste fabric which was provided to them.


The motifs that kids created were all floral (which is ok) but all of them were similar. I learnt something that this chain has to be broken, they are becoming limited visually. It is not easy for kids also to grasp so fast, so what can be done to break the line of similarity, how each child’s thinking/concepts can be brought out visually. They think, they relate to things but the struggle with visualization. So the main task lies ahead is to improve their visualizing power. This requires exposure too.

In terms of product nothing came out today L , except they learnt to stitch a pouch from waste fabric. They want to learn, but the need is to design the tools to help them learn.

Day two

Summer Camp day two

· Some rules were discussed in the beginning of the class:

1) They have to be quiet for this activity, they need to sit by themselves and thing and spend some time with a plant.

2) They cannot use erasers, pencils and rulers. They can only use water colors.

3) They cannot talk to each other while they are spending time with a plant.

4) They all have to keep timings in mind consciously.

5) They will be divided in groups and they will have to work within that group and share with the other groups later.

6) And someone in the class has to tell everyone what is important in the activity to do.


1) Only 2-3 kids were quiet and sat by them, a constant reminder was set that they have to be quiet.

2) They found working with only water colors/inks uncomfortable but it saved a lot of time. So the time management became better in today’s activities.

3) Diving the kids in small groups worked better, they discussed, shared which helped them discuss with other groups better and they were faster in working together than working individually.

4) This time they kept in mind what was important to do in a visual.

5) But again they struggled with visualization. All of them had same associations of different elements with feelings. For example for most of them rain was considered as “bringing trouble”, it did not show in their visuals but it came out when they were discussing their visuals. They were saying something and the visual lacked the elements of their expressions, feelings.

6) Some of them asked how they would show a certain feeling/character in their visual. For this some activities have to be planned which help them break away from their usual symbolic meanings.

7) All of them had same associations of different elements with feelings. For example for most of them rain was considered as “bringing trouble”, it did not show in their visuals but it came out when they were discussing their visuals. They were saying something and the visual lacked the elements of their expressions, feelings.

Day one

Summer Camp day one

· The main issue was time. The taken by children to do each activity took them double the time that was allotted to them. There were few reasons for it:

1) All of them spent a lot of time drawing margins, erasing again and again unless it was superbly neat.

2) Some struggled with thinking more than the others, and they saw everybody’s visual and made their own combining different elements from other visuals.

3) They did not consider the time factor at all, even if the work was not done on time it seemed ok for some.

4) They expressed better with words.

5) It was difficult to work with a big group of 19 children.

6) Most of them concentrated on making the box correctly rather than on showing the emotions. When asked what was more important to do-to make box correctly of the three emotions, all of them said emotions but only 2-3 of them actually concentrated on the three words (hide, conceal, reveal). So the visuals did not turn out that powerful.


· I found myself struggling with breaking the monotony of discussions.

· I found it difficult to handle 19 children at the same time

· Level of thinking and way of working varied which is very much acceptable, sometimes it got confusing who understands how much and who is just listening to others and making up his/her emotions based on others emotions.

· Communication is a problem.

· May be I should have given them already made boxes so that they had just done visuals??


· To avoid them so much time spending on drawing margins and erasing, lets make some rules:

1) No use of erasers, pencils and rulers

2) Only water colors can be used, no other kind of colors.

· Divide them in groups of 5 and give each group their own materials so that they are not all over the place.

· Before they start work, ask them what is it that is important in the activity to do. Keep asking them, reminding them while they are working.

· Tell them to discuss their work in their own groups so that it becomes a little easier for some people who struggle with thinking.

· Then make them discuss with other groups so that there is sharing of information and give everyone a chance to talk.

· Encourage them by saying “its good” so that they feel confident and they feel good about working.

Prior to project

How do designers become facilitators? How will I design facilitation?

Children learn more and are interested more when they are taught through play and fun rather than keeping a books in front of them which have passive visuals and just text. Introducing tools like debating which gets them to think and talking and counteract, something experiential, tools that involve making use of senses bring out more thoughts and insights.

I had an idea about teaching by using participatory tools but I witnessed in Aditi School as a part of my observation exercise for my project. But I wonder do these children grow faster than their age through this process? Do they lose out on something on the way? It is a powerful way to teach and learn but what is it that is getting lost. I sense something but I cannot really point out or may be its not losing, they are gaining too much to keep up with the others. But it will help in long run.

The facilitator knew what she wanted to achieve, it was clear in the head what is it that children shold be able to learn. It happened by putting them in certain situations, giving them toys to play and answer some questions. The whole process of making them learn about a big topic also involved leaning about small-small topics on the way to learn about the bigger topic.

I wished sit with standard sixth kids and learn and unlearn all over again.

Going to Drishya

I visited Drishya few times before starting the project. I was on an observation trip. the similar methodology in Aditi was being followed in Drishya, but resources were different, exposure was different as these children come from a very different background.

They were always eager to learn, to absorb, to make, to remember. Nothing was taken for granted by these children. There was a hunger of learning, and absorbing amongst these children.

I figured about their backgrounds, about their parents, what they like to do, a bit about how each of them think. Some were quieter than the others, but all of them worked peacefully. It was a calm atmosphere to learn.