My colleague Alice and I joined one of the Druzhba’s schools to assist and cooperate in an interactive lesson with a middle school class. According to the Non Formal Education principles and in collaboration with an art teacher and a psychologist, we created a creative educational environment to learn by having fun and experience.
The main activity was about painting and cooperation: the children had to reproduce "The Sunflower" painting from Van Gogh modulating their works with the ones of their pairs. The task for each child of the entire class was to reproduce only a little piece of the painting, depending on the place they were seated. The main final goal for the children was to be able to coordinate the different paintings by creating an ending harmonic drawing.
It has been interesting to be there, observing how children can work together to find common solutions and stimulating the process of cooperation and coordination to arrive at a shared result that doesn’t leave anyone behind.
During the activity we touched another important point of Non Formal Education: Alice and I joined the activity directly when the art teacher asked us to paint a piece of the whole figure; we were feeling like little children in school again sitting on those little chairs. We tried to build a symmetrical learning relation characterized by cooperation, respect, trust, appreciation, equity and parity between us and the children: we underlined the existent reciprocity between us putting ourselves in the position to learn something from them and this activity. While we were drawing we mainly stayed with a Korean child that was put apart from the other companions because of her shyness, her different ways of living and the language barriers. We searched to integrate her with the other children that were very curious about her disclosure toward us.
Throughout this experience I learned how alternative ways of teaching can be a useful way of expression and connection for people with different backgrounds, above all in children that in the age of middle school tend to create ingroups and outgroups (including the similarity and excluding the diversity) to better define their identities. I improved my awareness about the interesting match between creativity, art, teamwork and psychology and I will treasure it for my future ideas and projects!