Some incredibly touching, thoughtful and powerful work has come out of the project so far - I've been so inspired by the children's ideas, energies, thoughtfulness and depth of exploration, its a very special thing to work with. So many ideas have been generated and the children, staff and I are shaping these into various things to exhibit but also into actual acts of protest - we feel its vital the children's voices are heard and shared as widely as possible.
We've looked at many wide reaching examples of protest art and its been wonderful to see just how fired up the children have been by these - its such a broad term and I've wanted to give them as many examples as possible to really broaden the reference points we're working with. We've looked at examples of many actual protests, of sculptures, street art (in all its various forms), of graphic design (badges, logos, posters, t-shirts etc), of Craftivisim (so things like Yarn Bombing, cup cakes with messages etc), protest drama work, giant puppets, photographs, slogans, poetry, songs - and the ways in which all of these are combined.
Each class has made different things and taken different issues on board, though I'm also gathering certain things from all of the children, including a set of "protest peg dolls" (which we'll exhibit) protest badge designs and film footage of the children talking about their ideas and concerns.
Its not a project that can happen quickly or without an awful lot of on-going in-depth work exploring wide-reaching issues about our world. I always strive to work in a very child-centred way and I never want to impose my own words and "product" ideas on the groups I work with - so I don't design what we're going to make beforehand - its vital to me that the children, school staff and I together work collaboratively to design the content of projects. Its a longer way of working - but I think the depth and the learning is greater because of it and the children are engaged and motivated.
One - of many - inspiring things that came out of the project this week was the amount of writing that it generated amongst the children, and because of knowing the children well this is an incredibly touching thing to see. The children were creating books, HUGE scrolls of writing and pages upon pages in some cases because they were so motivated to get their thoughts down onto paper. Although we did a guided writing of a poem to gather ideas (we used the wonderful I AM poem format) the books, scrolls and vast pages of work were totally generated by the children - we'd got lots of different sizes of paper, lots of glue, tape, different pens etc and there was lots of space to work on the floor as well as at tables.
I'm also really inspired by just how local AND global a project like this can be. Dunkirk has pupils from all over the world and I learn so much from them because of the global perspective they bring and the rich discussions this generates in school. Its also deeply touching - for example we've been looking at anti-war protest and so many of the children have first hand experience of this because of the journeys they and their families have taken. It means projects delve deeply and issues are never straightforward - its also means the adults involved (and I mean the wider school staff) have to be incredibly sensitive, thoughtful and informed about issues themselves.
I also really value how Dunkirk makes time to look at very serious issues in a way that is appropriate for the children - but in a way that values children's thoughts and concerns about the world. We don't shy away from looking at some difficult images (such as turtles killed by eating plastic bags) but this is always framed in a way that enables discussion and exploration around ways we CAN make a difference and we can make changes.
Yesterday Oak Class (year 2) became incredibly fired up by examples of anti-litter protest and this sparked wonderful discussions around litter globally but also locally - and they immediately suggested that we could gather litter around school and on the walk to our forest school site and try to make changes about the amount of waste dropped.
The links the children make with the rest of the curriculum are really exciting to see - such as children talking about needing to protest so the Prime Minister will hear: which has come through us exploring power and people who hold positions of power.
As the project develops I'm really keen to get the children's voices heard as widely as possible. They've come up with some incredibly touching and deep thoughts about the kind of world they want to live in and their ideas really could change the world...