The grade 5 students were creating their plan for their play in music class. They will be adding melody and sound effects to their production before the school year is out. Balancing the technique and knowledge based training with the outlet should help them hold more of their learning through the summer for starting the new year.
I will admit, there is a limit in place in my class. I ask them to choose nonviolent themes and options as much as possible. There is enough violence in the world, in the games they play and the shows they watch. Resorting to fighting is an easy way out of needing to creatively think of options.
So when the one group is planning “cops” and “criminals” I am tuning in a bit to see where they will take it. Not surprisingly, when the decision is made that two sets of criminals both try to rob the same place they decide the characters will start fighting. So I suggested that they think about some kind of slapstick humour to replace the fighting.
One girl seriously responded, “We won’t really be slapping anyone. We will just be pretending and the instruments will make the sound for the slap.”
Now this is where teaching takes some wisdom. The inner me is laughing at the literality of her listening, but I know the student. She would feel hurt to be laughed at even in fun, so I ask them what they thought slapstick meant. Once they learned it meant larger than life physical actions a few of them began suggesting other options. Their performance idea began to sound a bit less like the shows on TV and more like a production of their own.
It is always a challenge to focus the students further than the television shows that fill too much of their time. I have to balance refocusing with remembering being their age riding our bikes or running around the yard in our little two block long street playing our own versions of cops and robbers.
Every now and then I step in as the story teller in the two minute dramas they enjoy as a game at the end of class. I want to free them to think beyond the models on TV so I am forced to do some mental gymnastics. It is a way of stretching their minds without directly criticizing their ideas. They are simply a reflection of the media and stories that are popular to their age group.
It is a bit fun having the actors trying to push up an imagined tent that collapses on them, then hearing a snuffling sound, escaping the tent to find a group of Sasquatches have taken all their camping gear and snatch their tent the minute they leave it. When I send them scrambling around to look for the “keys” to escape, they are right into the action. The kids laugh with delight at the craziness I think of and their stories began stretching in their own telling. The sound effects are becoming more on cue as well.
My rambling mindful gift for today is the gift of creative exploration.