Unexpected beauty – teaching the eye and ear

I am in the middle of teaching a sculpture unit exploring the concept of Kaitiakitanga – or guardianship/conservatorship. I gave the students the word (Māori cultural concept at the centre) and they have to research what it means, how it can be explored and how they can make a sculpture to make others think about it.

This week one student felt disheartened because her idea did not seem to be good enough. Her idea explores water and user interaction and recycled plastic and, when researching grand scale installation art and land art, she suddenly exclaimed that her bottles were going to be ugly. Her idea was not good enough. Or so she thought.

And I said, no. I don’t agree. Let’s play to see.

So we filled the bottles and we made holes in them and we poured water from one to the other and the drumming sound was resonant, bassy, and beautiful.

Why is this not beautiful? I asked.

She agreed, it was beautiful.

And the whole class stopped to listen.

What is the takeaway? Sometimes all we need is time to play, to notice and to challenge ourselves to see the world in a different way.

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