When you display children’s work…

According to Ursula Kolbe:

When you display children’s work, it shows that you value their efforts. Displays remind them of what they’ve done and can inspire further ideas. They can add beauty and interest to studio spaces. But they can also be fairly pointless.” (p.116)

I like the words she chooses to describe an art exhibition in which her daughter’s work featured (but which was made up of almost identical paper butterflies and so couldn’t be recognised even by the artist herself)… Kolbe describes it as “‘Art’ …being used …as a public relations exercise. Children and the potential wealth of their ideas and imagination,” she notes, “were overlooked.” (p.116)

“There are ways of creating displays that can do justice to children’s lively minds,” Kolbe asserts; “When a display reveals something of the thinking, making and sharing of ideas that went into the work, it tells a story. This is why it is so valuable that you take notes of ongoing experiences by small groups of children and write comments on them. When you put up some of the comments together with photographs of the children at work and transcripts of their dialogues, it adds great interest to displays. It helps you and the children recall experiences and so inspires further work, and it informs families about the program.
When done well, documentation gives us a window into children’s thinking and learning. It can show how children bounce off each other’s ideas. In doing so, it reveals not only the interactions of a specific group, but also sheds light on young children’s thinking in general.
However, when documentation is to be displayed, choose your material carefully. Always be mindful of the need to protect confidentiality. Documentation on display should never reveal personal details. Nor should it encourage readers to compare children. It is important that staff and families all understand the purposes for displaying documentation. From the child’s point of view, having an adult document what they do and say – provided it is with their consent and participation – is a positive experience. It tells them their thoughts and actions are important.” (p.116)

Note: Kolbe further refers us to Reggio material on documentation.

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Ursula Kolbe (2007) Rapunzel’s Supermarket: All about young children and their art. Second Edn. Pippinot Press: Byron Bay, NSW.

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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