The Mahatma Gandhi International School (MGIS) is a community school in amongst the hubbub of the very modern and ancient city of Ahmedabad in India. It is brightly painted and although on a fairly small plot of land, the buildings are further softened by tall trees around the fence line, and lots of grasses, shrubs and flowers.
There is an exuberance in the students and teachers. MGIS is a lively place, lots of classes are held outdoors, there is lots of chat, lots of laughter and lots of excitement about their various projects as well as students seemingly full social lives! Even the monkeys add some exhuberance to the atmosphere as they swing and crash about in the trees. It is a wonderful community environment.
When I teach classes here, I invite the students into a contrasting workspace – to create in a quiet space, where they can become absorbed into their art work without distraction. We talk about observation and creativity in art making; sometimes focussing on one aspect more than the other, at other times, starting with observation, then using that to inspire the imagination and creativity.
This project with the Grade V students was an exercise in observational drawing. Using the continuous line technique students were asked to choose a plant from their garden and draw it as well as they could. This task requires a great deal of looking and concentration. During the project I learned they had been studying the life cycle of plants – so it blended in well with their science classes.
I was very impressed with their drawings, as well as their concentration and willingness to try something new. I noticed children enjoying the opportunity to focus on their artworks and a sense of pride as they achieved these studies using a fairly odd (to them) drawing style.