earth and…children!

By isabella • Terra Cruda • 18 Aug 2012

piedi nella terra

When we immerse ourselves in the world of children we are always able to fully experience the joy of “doing”. When I work with children I can share their ability to wonder, I can share their curiosity which brings them to explore every single thing minute by minute. It often seems as if we want to teach them not to make the mistakes that we made, but more often I notice how their existence, which is so simple and free from influences, invites us to step back from those moments when we are absorbed in our thoughts and brings us back “here and now”. We give children lessons, we tell them stories, we make them think about things that happened and we don’t give them the opportunity to deal with new experiences on their own. Education does not only occur through looking or listening, but also through manual ability when working different materials. As highlighted by Munari, touching completes the visual and the auditory sensations. Earth is an element which welcomes and nourishes life. It’s the part of the earth’s crust which sometimes is marked by repetitive lines of furrows, sometimes is used to create buildings which reach dizzy heights and, when it’s soft and clayey, models itself on the shapes of our feet. The soil naturally turns into a multitude of surprising shapes and contains the memory of our experiences. It’s the material dimension, present and nude, it’s the physical form of creativity. The contact with earth is sacred: it’s a direct contact with the primordial matter. Sometimes I notice a certain resistance to touching earth, sometimes children carry with them fears which belong to adults: “Don’t get dirty…”, “Don’t touch…”. These limitations create a behaviour which is not spontaneous and which leads to a consequent inability to express what they really are. Behind a first shy and restrained approach, there is an anxious need to express themselves which brings a passionate outburst and a total participation. An apparent narrow-mindedness could mean a stronger need to cross the threshold of free expressiveness, therefore direct knowledge is important. Thoughts bring us to cross the border to fantasy, they allow us to imagine and reflect about things, but it is important to underline that the mental process needs concrete process in order to nourish new ideas so that the creative process can be understood in its totality. Our experience allows us to pass on to children the instruments that they need in order to better deal with life: it is useful to give them some examples by giving directions, by teaching them respect for themselves and working in group, by helping them find solutions and making choices, but it is also advisable not to limit their freedom of action by trying to have them do what corresponds to our personal vision.

These pictures were taken during some workshops held at SUMMERCAMP 2012, organised by ARCI Conegliano.