Dr. Gai Lindsay (University of Wollongong, Australia).
I have spent the past week in Abu Dhabi working with many wonderful early childhood teachers in the Middle East as part of my role in the Bright Start Early Arts Intervention.
During the 1st Bright Start Conference for the MENA Region, focused on ‘Early Years Excellence in Practice,’ I was priviledged to share several papers and workshops focused on how we can honour children’s human right to be heard and to engage in age-appropriate, play-based cultural and arts experiences as outlined in Articles 12 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Read a great article about this here.
As I shared information and theoretical provocations to encourage reflection about how to offer high quality visual arts learning experiences with children, I supplemented Malaguzzi’s inspiring poem, The Hundred Languages of Children with an excerpt from a poem of declaration and intent I had written during my attendance at the 2009 Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE) ‘Landscapes of Rights’ conference in Adelaide, South Australia.
The poem titled ‘A Blueprint for Beauty’, was originally published in The Challenge (Lindsay, 2009, Volume 13 (3), pp. 22-23) was inspired by keynote presenters Ivana Soncini, Elena Giacopini from Reggio Emilia and by Dr. Stephania Giamminuti’s lyrical translation of their challenging address. The information, inspirations and provocations offered during the conference profoundly moved me and, as frequently occurs for me, I wrote the poem in the middle of the night when I could not sleep for excitement about the ideas swirling in my head. In 2014, I illustrated the poem to contribute to collaborative gift to Reggio Children which was curated by REAIE in thanks for the inspirations offered at the Reggio Children international conference. I offer some images of the illustrated poem in this blog.
A BLUEPRINT FOR BEAUTY.
By Gai Lindsay
Would you plant a seed in a thimble?
Can you contain a storm in a teacup?
Is it possible to build a dam across the oceans,
or douse a bushfire with tears?
Can you hold back childhood
-or box a child up and post them to adulthood?
Why would you? How could you?
Shall we design a blueprint for beauty and joy,
where all children have a right to place?
To bring their own culture,
their own understandings?
Where children are first seen as citizens – NOW!
Where all children are given the
times of childhood.
all children are viewed as resourceful, motivated
and full of emotion.
Let us, with heart and soul and absolute intent
-protect the right of the “possible,”
-embrace the impossible,
-protect the NOW.
Let us declare our intent and
Assume our responsibility.
Let us knock down fences of fear and limitation
and enter fields of fertile potential.
Let us construct realities of new possibility
without discarding the boundaries
Let us secure and repair the fences that
protect the times of childhood.
Hold back the destruction
of aspiration and ambition.
Let us follow the traces children share,
learn their language,
hear their voice, and
use more eyes to see the whole child –
discarding the lens of assumption.
Let us be surprised and delighted when children
dismantle imposed walls of restriction to know delight.
Experience the light,
Run in the sky,
And hear the beating of their own wings
As they take flight.
Let us decide together to put away the destination
Discard all measure of normality,
Celebrate difference and imperfection –
For this is where beauty is found…
The delight of humanity in pure expressivity!
Let us construct schools of childhood.
Schools that meet children – not needs.
Schools that give identity to community.
Schools that produce culture.
Schools that construct theory
in connection with practice.
Schools where children, teachers and families –
Put themselves in play,
Create new worlds,
Develop new realities,
Embrace the boundaries and debate the borderlands.
Let us plan for places of risk
Let us strive to learn to learn.
For striving is a place of beauty
a celebration of life
and a joy to carry every day of our lives.
Let us learn as we teach.
Welcome debate, confront ideas and
Break down meanings.
Let us never reach the answer to the question.
Let our times with children be a process of confrontation
and a celebration of doubt.
Let us search for shared understandings and
construct new meanings.
New cultures of childhood, within our own places,
times and spaces.
Wrapped in layers of our own history, heritage,
Let us give children the possibilities that
were not anticipated,
and open wide the doors that
others may have closed.
Let us honour great minds,
Let us listen and speak and dance our research in the hundred languages and ,
Let us do nothing without JOY!
Let us design contexts that support liberty
Let us erect fragile frameworks,
Dense with emotion,
Dense with dialogue,
Dense with relationships.
Let us create an educational project
That gives credit to children,
That makes them known,
That makes them visible.
Let us support children to witness their presence.
Let us hand children the tools
That will support them to build their own worlds,
Create their own wonder,
Express their own understandings,
And reject imposed plans.
Let us, with children, design blueprints for beauty,
That will support our shared journey of life.
Let us embrace the possible
And live and move between
Rules and exceptions –
For that is the place of miracles.
The heart of beauty.