A few weeks ago, I walked through the Kindergarten after the children had left and noticed the light, details and the beauty in the rooms that the children spend their days.
Vea Vecchi, an atelierista at the Diana School in Reggio Emilia, writes, "Gestures of care, research into the quality of form and beauty are testified to in objects which are not only great works of art but ornaments for the body and simple objects for everyday use. This form of inspiration can be found in all peoples and cultures, past and present. It is a filter for interpreting the world, an ethical attitude, a way of thinking which requires care, grace, attention, subtlety and humor, a mental approach going beyond the simple appearance of things to bring out unexpected aspects and qualities. "
I have heard Vea speak twice and each time she insists that attention to beauty is a primal need for humans. I believe if a community gives priority to the care of its environment the members will absorb these priorities and strategies Beauty demands noticing the moment, reflection and a compassion for people and animals that live within the environment. Beauty generates a response. It might be a gesture, a smile, adding a rock to growing cairn on a hike, sketching something that catches your eye, lyrics of a song, a poem or even a meal made from the fruits of the garden.
As I walk around our room I see responses made by children to the environment that they live in at school and home.
Beauty in Nature
A nest given to us by Marla to support our observation and study of birds inspires awe and reverence.
Beauty in the Diminutive
This box of little books were authored by children who were just beginning to view themselves as writers. The spark was lit by an even tinier book made in the studio early in the year by Caroline. The size of the books made them intriguing.
Beauty in Story
On the block table, city people, with a multitude of expressions, lead interesting lives. They each have their own story cultivated by the children. The characters are whimsical and no one person resembles another. These city people include dog walkers, crossing guards, DJs, spies, Egyptian immigrants, Anna Golden and a mom working at Union Bank. They are prone to dramatic stories that are often solved with magical powers.
Beauty in the Unexpected
Many people who live, work or play in the city have visited the classroom during the last month. They have shared with us the photographs they have taken in the city, the reasons they bought their homes in the city, thoughts about traveling through the city, places that they like to eat and parks where they play with their families. We learned that most interviewers document in some way and so we decided that we would take notes to document. Mary and I review the notes later in the day and are struck by the richly nuanced thinking evident in the note-taking. Children easily and lucidly move from letter symbols to graphics and back again. It was unexpected and yet profound.
Beauty includes the Senses
The children have conveyed the sights and sounds connected to life in a city. The instrument summons sound and song in our head. The police officer commands attention with his whistle as the street lights shine above his head. The ambulance drivers move with urgency. Scaffolding in the studio has slowed the work of the children and provoked conversation and debate regarding the people of the city.
Julia's urban landscape reveals an unfolding story.
The architectural emphasis is prominent in Kenny's sketch.
The beauty in Zach's landscape is the one face peering out against a backdrop of city skyscrapers .