Thursday, 25 October 2012

Creative Expression: An Inside-Out Approach

Have you ever noticed that we are 'taking in' so many things as if we are given a series of lectures and never got an opportunity to express outwardly about what we want to communicate. That is how it has been for me until late. I see that there was so much 'taking in' and there were not much opportunities to express myself. Schooling did not allow me to express as much as I always wanted to express. So, when I entered life after schools and when I was going through a difficult phase in my life, I started to blurt too much and over communicated that affected many of my relationships both at work and personal life. While many considered my way of communication as very overwhelming, some of my good friends used to say that I should start expressing myself in writing. When I told them that I am no good at writing and asked the reason why they feel that I could become a good writer, one of the persons told me that I have so much knowledge, thoughts and ideas in my mind which is not expressed but actually suppressed. He added that it could be the reason why I talk too much. It almost seemed like I was exploding rather than expressing. I realized there is so much knowledge and information stored in my mind which I was not able to unleash it out through a medium. I used to sing very well, I could have used that as a medium to express my feelings and who I am. Somehow I did not improve that talent either, for another reason. I felt a strong urge to channelize the knowledge constructed and stored in my mind, through an expressive medium; hence I guess I am blogging here. Since I am very verbal, expressing through speech is something that is very easy for me, though I am learning how to write. The blogger is doing a great bit in helping me to improve my writing skills which I could not focus and improve on during my childhood. Surprisingly, when I started to blog here, there is some kind of peace and inner work going on. I could see myself being much more calmer than I generally used to be. Nowadays, I do not feel the need to talk much and bother people. 

Similarly, in the past, I noticed that my child was struggling with the same challenge. He had much knowledge and information that he wanted to share that was stored in his little head which he could not express through words. An incident that I could never forget in my life is when one day, he was late from his school. At that time, he wasn't talking much since he was a young lad. His van came very late and when I tried to call the van driver, he didn't pick up and I was very worried. At last, when the van came, the driver didn't wait long to explain why they were late since they were in a hurry to drop other children. I enquired my child about the delay. He simply told, "come home, amma'. As soon as he entered home, he took the black board and started drawing something using the chalk and told me, "read and then write". He drew the following picture and I narrated what I understood from the picture. He has represented in his picture, the driver underneath the bus changing the tyres and S watching it. He simply nodded 'yes' and 'no' to all my narrations and when I arrived at one particular narration, he nodded a big 'yes' and wrote down the same in the board.

If you notice the sentence, he could not accept when I said, "Uncle repaired". He was not aware of 'past tense' at that time, and for him every sentence had a "will". So, he nodded a big 'yes' for this sentence, hugged me and he said, "afraid, afraid, me afraid". I was moved into tears how the child used drawing as a medium to express his feelings and what happened. He started to express like this only when I bought this black board and chalks. Later, he started to draw many such pictures in the black board and I got into the habit of narrating it for him and thus he picked up the language and started talking very well. 

That moment, my child taught me a beautiful lesson in my life that everyone has an innate craving to express.  He proved it to me that not knowing a particular skill is no big deal (in his case, it was language skills at that time of his life). He somehow expressed what he wanted to say through another medium, which is 'drawing'. He made me understand how much I am craving to be expressed myself. There is a big gap when we have much going on 'inside' and when it is not expressed 'outside'. I then believed that learning has to be 'inside-out' too. While I believe in 'looking inside' and learning about the 'inner self', I also started to believe that more inner work happens when we express it out in authentic manner through a particular medium. When we don't fully express ourselves this way, then we are not fulfilled, then it becomes more harder to 'look inside'.  Later, after many researches, I understood the importance of creative expression. Creative expression enables us to tell a story about how we feel and enable us to see the world in a new way.

The more we started to practice creative expression through arts, I noticed that we were starting to explore our inner selves. Whatever we expressed, the models or paintings we produced told us a story about the insights that we got. It revealed something about ourselves. Very soon for both me and my child, this kind of expressing ourselves became a regular pattern and we started to use this learning method very often. Not only it helped us to reveal some insights about ourselves, some of our expressions also revealed many other insights related to understanding nature and science. 

So, whenever we 'take in' something, for example, even when we read a story, we always made it a point to express what we learnt and journal insights/learning points and experience through some other medium. Waldorf education specifies seven arts - drama, drawing, movement, modelling, music, painting and speech. They also suggest that after listening to a story, the child should be given opportunity to express themselves in some way. There are many ways to express, for example one can draw a scene from the story, sing a song connected to the story, make models, create a scene and retell stories using puppets etc. At this time, my child expresses mostly through painting, drawing and music and we are slowly moving to express ourselves through drama, movement, modelling and using speech to retell a scene or express feelings related to the story. 

Take a look at the work produced by S after he read a story 'The Singing Dinosaurs". It is a story about how the three baby dinosaurs were lost, they started to sing when they were afraid and then at last found their parents. 

Not only he expressed a scene from the story through painting, he learnt some blending techniques using oil pastels. More important, he got an amazing insight that "Sound travels through air" which he has journalled in his picture. Since he got this insight about 'Sound', we also played a game to figure out if sound really travels through air. I asked him to close his eyes and stay in the living room, while I vanished into a room and starting singing in a feeble voice. His job was to follow the sound and find out the exact room where I am in, in the very first attempt every time we repeated the game. He was surprised to experience that sound did travel in air and that helped him to find out where am I. We took turns to find each other, by following the sounds produced and that travelled in the air. We ended up having loads of fun. This kind of playing games to understand science can be so much fun and children naturally learn many concepts through real experience. In this case, our game also involved movement and singing. 

Also, take a look at this art work that represents 'Reflection' which he expressed after reading the famous story 'The Hamster And The Lion'. Art work idea is inspired by Deep Space Sparkle. His understanding of what 'reflection' means, couldn't have made a mark in such deep manner if he had not gotten the opportunity to express in such a brilliant way. 

There is nothing more fulfilling than to be able to express. The ability to express or create something can reflect and nurture children's emotional health. In my case, writing this blog improved my emotional health too. 

So, are you just 'taking in'? Then, it is time to express. In what ways, do you nurture your creative expression?

Enjoy Learning and Sharing

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written...or expressed, I must say. And wonderful to see your childs journey in expressing himself. Superb stuff.