Friday, 10 July 2015

....not one without the other

This story began as learning and knowing from The Atelier of Withered Things, inspired by Karin Fusner, a Swedish artist. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to be a participant in The Atelier of Living Organisms at The Loris Malaguzzi Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

We, a group of 25 international educators, were taken on a journey of transformation, lead by an Atelierista. I made my first connections with Karin Fusner's strong sense of empathy for environment and nature. I learned that in order to prepare this Atelier, many teachers, pedagogistas and atelieristas dedicated to children studied Karin's work in order to translate it into an Atelier.

My personal reflection from the 1.5 hour experience involves magical discovery and predictions for the future. For me, the Ateliarista became the Fortune Teller I  have been longing to know. It was as if through the immersion of the Atelier experience I, alongside my peers, was able to have an emersion in the Atelier and come out with an unexpected and surprising image of possibility.

Through the experience I was struck by the phrase, "everything that is real is beautiful." As our Ateliarista pointed out, "to perceive beauty where beauty does not seem to reside takes an attentive approach." We were invited to activate all of our senses as we, for 10 minutes, immersed ourselves within the materials provocatively presented.

I walked, touched, listened and paid attention to the dance of images that played within my head between what I was observing and my most recent journey of teaching and learning outside daily with very young children and a team of inspirational teachers. Within the room of provocation were pumpkins full of mold; cabbage that was dried and withered and a variety of other living organisms that were of varying degrees of life and living. (I was immediately reminded of Canadian artist Lyndal Osborne's work, Bowerbird~Life as Art.)

After sharing our observations with the group, we were sent back to the materials and invited to make a graphic or rudimentary product of something that caught our attention and give it a name. 
I decided to represent a dried flower, which actually looked like layers of sediment found in a fossil. I thought it was a mushroom at first and then realized it was a flower when a seed fell out of it as I turned it over. At once it made me think of the many layers necessary to make a living organism, for example the seed. Then I began to think of the many layers, interests, and passions necessary in a mother in order to raise a child (probably because I was thinking deeply about being away from my own children while studying in Italy). Each layer (of a human being - mother or father) may be good, bad or ugly, but all necessary in helping a child to grow full of resilience and possibility, and in authentic ways. 

I  called my product......not one without the other.
The Ateliarista then responded subjectively to my creation and explanation, saying, "You have made an Open Ecosystem." He proceeded to tell me "children are good at creating theories about nature". He spoke of his own children who had formed a theory after wondering how the beautiful flowers were growing in an old ditch beside the road. The children said, "the breeze brought in the flowers." His family looked more closely and decided, "a ditch is like a world in itself."

My feeling of possibility was inspired by the Ateliarista's story of his family's theory. I understood that I had taken an old dried up flower (like a ditch) considered it and honoured it by giving it my own 'breeze' or life giving thoughts and imagination and in turn was able to make my learning visible with a graphic and rudimentary product. 

I was able to make my learning visible....
I was able to create a theory of how layers of a flower are similar to the layers of a human being. I think my learning and knowing could be extended.....I think I want to learn more and understand more  about the words...Open Ecosystem. I think I am beginning to understand what it means to 'go deep' in learning after offering a provocation of learning to children.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful...celebrating the 'deepening'...