So the most joyful, mirthful, and overall chaotic of days at the school was assuredly the best I have had teaching to date. To start off the story, we must talk about the Kenyan curriculum. Currently for preschool, the government doesn’t seem to think that subjects outside the tedious areas of English, Arithmetic, Science, and Kiswahili hold educational value for youngsters. Thankfully, at least for this opportunity, our school falls outside official recognition of the Ministry of education. Therefore, we are able to really teach what we want. So, my supervisor Geoffrey and I decided that it would be a great idea to buy a bunch of paint and brushes, and let the kids run wild with them for a day.
Great idea right? We thought so, but we didn’t realize that this would stand the first instance a paintbrush graced the hands of about all of our young pupils. I thought teaching the inner mechanisms of personal expression through the colourful application of emotion would be difficult. I went step by step, showing how to apply paint to a brush and then put it to page, instructing the students to draw what they feel; a smiley face, a house, a fish, what have you. I expected the students to copy me and need some help after the first few students seemed to find themselves lost when I called them up to try it out. Turns out, they had a lot more skill and nuance then I could have possibly imagined. After I let them run wild with the paint (which resulted in a mighty big mess), they dazzled me with a collection of post-expressionist imaginings that would pale any rothco or pollack set against them.
Beyond the pure fun of it all, to see the pure joy of new experience on the children’s faces was truly gratifying. For most in the school, drawing and other art imaginings were restricted to scrapings in the dirt, easily swept away by the winds or the hand of a jealous classmate. Now they all have a permanent piece on the wall they can look up to and be like, I made that, that is something of mine; a feeling many experienced for the first time that day.