So this week in class we drew/painted a river to represent our learning inquiry that began last September. We were to think symbolically of the obstacles, the banks of the river, whether there was anything in the river, and any bends along the way. I used watercolour pencils, watercolour crayons, and watercolour from tubes. I figured it's water, so why not use WATERcolour?
I enjoyed the process. The next step was to bring 12 or more collected quotes that we have read during our inquiry that were meaningful. We wrote them on post-it notes and then placed them on top of our river painting in appropriate places along the river. Then we reflected on our river pieces and wrote about them.
My river/waterfall painting:
Narrow at the top, widening with time
More beautiful than the original intention
As we progress down the waterfall, the boulders become less visible. They are still there- in that they guide the water down the specific path. Some boulders may be just under the surface, but not clearly visible. But they are not constricting, they don’t need to be present any more. I become less and less, as the students become more and more independent and familiar with the writing process and things to try.
The water is made up of various blues and greens, with different painting techniques. Like the individuals in my class- they are individual writers with their own style and flair. All together, they make up a beautiful group of authors.
All together, their writing creates a variety of expression, the most unique shelf in a library. The students enjoy writing together, they enjoy sharing their writing aloud. They appreciate each other. The water and swirls represent this sharing, this overlapping.
In the DR of my childhood, the river is the source of life for the small rural farming village. Pipes can guide the water to feed the thirsty land, to make it arable for planting at any time of year. The river is the place where girls collect heavy cans of water, confidently balanced on their heads, bringing the valuable water for cooking and drinking and cleaning to the proud but humble homes with thatched roofs. The river, with surrounding rocks, is also the Laundromat, where girls and women beat the clothes on the rocks to clean them and rinse them in the flowing water. Gossip is shared around these rocks. In the heat of the day, the cooling river and falls bring welcome relief and are a Playground for the kids, who scream and play in the water. The river is a source of life. Without it, life in the village is different and more difficult.
In the church with the precariously tippy benches and hard swept dirt floor, they sing of the joy in their soul that is like a river of living water in their being. This song is full of life, with a syncopated beat that is hard not to tap a toe to. It lifts them from the struggle of daily life. It reminds them that they believe in something more than what they see day to day. The river is a beautiful symbol yet also a dependent reality in their lives.
I think of this too, as I think of my inquiry and what I am learning and what my students are creating with their authoring: It is living, it is changing, it is somewhat predictable, but still breathtaking with beauty. It is a source of life- students crave the sharing time, the double block of writing time, the huddled trio discussing Pumpkin’s next adventure, the pleading with me to take their Writer's Notebooks home. These are the swirls, the sprays that form the whole body of water.
I can’t just arrive at the swirls. The water needs to wind its way around the rocks and boulders. It needs to meander until it hits the more rapid flow. I could zoom in with a camera lens on just the froth and flow. That has its beauty on its own. But I would miss so much if all I looked at was that part. It’s beauty in the whole. The beauty is in being on the whole journey.