Over all, I couldn't be more pleased with the change in attitude I've witnessed with these kids. It may have had something to do with requesting to work outside on such a beautiful day, but I don't hear things like: "Are we being graded on this?" and "I don't know how to draw!" anymore. As they get more familiar with the materials I'm witnessing some revisions of the original designs; they have gained confidence and are enjoying playing with color and texture. I am also happy to see many students who originally wanted to add words to explain their idea now feel that the image is strong enough to stand on its own. This is not to say that we were able to shake off the over-use of cliche, or that everyone is giving 100%, but we are getting it done and the students are engaged in the process.
To get the most out of a project like this, the mural concept should tie into the curriculum so that class time could be utilized with more fluidity. This would require planning the year before...but even then you would have to dance around the testing. I'm just happy we were able to do it despite it all.
During preparation for the final leg of this project I was lent the book A Whack on the Side of the Head by a friend. The author, Roger von Oech, is a creative thinking consultant. In the chapter "Mental locks" he explains that one of the reasons we are not more creative is because, "Much of our educational system is an elaborate game of guess what the teacher is thinking. Many of us have been taught that the best ideas are in someone else's head." When you start to think about it, so much of the way we live is centered around that very idea.
Our planet is in need of some new answers to some very old problems, the time is now to honor creativity!