Today I was flipping through a great old teaching tips bookwhen I found a lovely idea. Basically, you have your students weave long ribbons or strips of cloth through the wire of a chain link fence.
Sometimes I stand outside on our playground and think about how sad it is that the children have to be confined within an ugly metal fence. I'd never really thought of that ugliness as a palette that could be improved with something as simple as a few bright fibers. I envision the entire length of our fence woven through and through with a rainbow of ribbon, yarn, and cloth, the colors gently fading from exposure to the August sun.
There are obvious educational possibilities here - fine motor development, patterning, even the history of weaving - but let's leave that behind for a moment and focus on aesthetics. The real value in a project like this one lies within the desire to improve our surroundings. It also sends a subtle message to our students: safe boundaries can be something worth celebrating. Although there are limits, we can work within them to create beauty.
I told a colleague about this idea and she immediately insisted we do it as soon as possible. Her unexpected enthusiasm underscored a very basic human craving, a desire to be surrounded by peace and beauty. We were feeling a powerful need not only to refine our surroundings, but to share with our students the very idea that it was possible to do so. As adults we are usually aware of our power and ability to create beauty, even in unexpected places. This knowledge and power must be shared with our students. We are raising the generation that will make or break the very survival of the human race. It's zero hour, folks. If today's child doesn't grow up to recognize her own ability to improve the world, there's little hope for her sons and daughters.
We are surrounded by extraordinary beauty. Let us teach our students to appreciate and increase it before the rosy filters of childhood fall away.