Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The power of novelty (Palestine 8)

Yesterday I went with The Freedom Theatre preschool to a chicken farm... where chickens are raised and 39 days later taken for slaughter...

I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback with the whole thought of that as a destination... but then opened my mind to the possibilities. This is a REAL way for the children to learn where their food comes from.

The drive there was an experience in itself.
7 children and three adults in one car... yep, no seat-belts and child-seats - this was back to my own childhood style of transportation. I remember my friends and i cramming into the car and my dad driving us all home... But in these days of hyper safety I have to admit it felt odd, but I went with the flow... and I felt safe the whole time.

As we left Jenin refugee camp and the city and onto the open fields (5 minutes by car) the feeling in the car changed. It was amazing. These children who were all busy being aware of each other, and how they should sit and behave suddenly relaxed. The educator, sitting in the front (with a child on her knee) started talking about what could be seen growing in the fields, and asking questions about what the children could see... the children were fully focussed on what they could see and what everyone was saying. They also were generous with each other so that they could all see... I was sat in the back, four children sat next to me, two children sat on my knee. The road was unsurfaced so we moved slowly. Perfect to take in the sights.

When we got to the chicken farm we were invited in... of course the smell was the first thing that hit you.
The room was enormous and was partitioned off half way... on the other side was where the chicken were. We went to see them. The children learned about their 39 day life... that when they got bigger the whole building would be made available to them, how they were fed, how they were kept warm, and in summer how they are kept cool, how the air is changed regularly, and how the sawdust is later used as fertiliser.
They also got to touch chickens and see the difference between male and females - and that most were males.

After the visit they all got back into the car and were returned to the preschool in the camp.
It would have been nice to have walked a bit in that big open countryside... as I felt that WAS the novelty. And after all it would have given the children the chance to see the plants growing the cows mooing... and also a closer look at that dead cow on the side of the road... it was part cow part skeleton... and it did catch the attention of the children from the car.

Today at the course I told the educators about this transformation in the children... and they replied that most children in the camp never get to see open spaces. Below I will share images of the city of Jenin and the camp, so that you can really see the difference... the buildings here in the camp are placed very tight together, so I can understand that open space is something the children are not familiar with. The children were calmer in this open space... even though they were not out in nature they were able to see it... even this was having an impact. Then of course, the novelty factor played its part... here was something new that the children needed to discover more about - their brains were busy absorbing everything... sight sounds smells and information.

The question is... how do they deepen this learning? What have the children taken back with them... what could the educators explore...
the smell seemed to have had a big impact on most of the children... maybe something to do with smells... what makes a good or bad smell... do we all like the same sort of smells... charts could be made, maths can be used, art could be made of beautiful smells of "ugly" smells, art using spices - smelly paint. Why do things have smells even? The see where to go from that....

downtown Jenin... with wide streets

the Refugee camp

the refugee camp with narrow streets

the chicken farm - this is half the space... when the chicken get bigger they will double the space for them

stroking a chicken

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