Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rumiloma kids take on the masters

This week Zoë brings us an update from one of our most popular programs.  Stay tuned in the weeks to come as the Manna house will be filled with our fabulous summer volunteers!

Greetings from Ecuador to all of our readers! Although we find ourselves with only 3 months left as Program Directors with Manna Project, our programs continue to gain momentum. Today I am going to update you all on the one class offered to children still too young to read and write: Arte para Niños! Children’s Art!

Our mission to promote within our community the value of art, which is exceedingly hard to come by in Ecuador’s public schools, seems to be reaching further because our enrollment has increased and attendance has become more consistent. Increasing enrollment has been a central goal of the art team since August, and Luke, Sam and I are very pleased to see results. Most satisfying, in my opinion, is that the same students are returning to class every week, which really indicates that they value the lessons and projects we do in art class and that it’s not just a fun hour with paints that students attend sporadically.

We have recently changed our curriculum. The previous three quarters we focused on different regions of the world, choosing art projects that reflected local culture and typical art forms from those regions. This quarter however, we are focusing instead on specific artists. Each class we present a small lesson about a different artist, and then do an art project inspired by him. At the end of class, we ask students questions and reward correct answers with pieces of candy in order to encourage retention of the information we offer them in the lesson.

By focusing on particular artists, it is our hope that our students will gain more appreciation for art as a medium of individual expression. They will see how the works of different artists from different eras and different continents vary in use of color, tone and style.

Finally, it is a continued goal of ours to encourage creativity and independent work. Many students, particularly our younger students who accompany older family members to class, tend to mimic the projects of their peers. We want to create a space in which students build up confidence in their own ability to be creative and create an art project on their own. Furthermore, we wish to reinforce that there is no “correct” or “right” final project. This may be the only class they attend in their childhood where this is the case and they are not encouraged to follow a strict set of rules in order to produce a final product.

The art team is very excited about how Children’s Art has progressed over the past few quarters, and we are also looking forward to seeing how our students respond to learning about a variety of influential artists!  Here’s to looking ahead!

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