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Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

321GO! Grade 6 Introduction to DAREarts

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Everything’s ready to go!

First Day!

How do you take a group of kids who don’t know each other, from different schools, different backgrounds and introduce them to DAREarts?  This is Grade 6, ages 10 and 11. Each student has been chosen by a Principal or Teacher to represent his or her school.

Today we’re all learning about staging.  Levels, facial expressions, body positions. Silent communication.  Audience and back stage etiquette, bowing, volume, clarity; so much to remember. Miss Laura has a hand action for supporting. For making an audience. There are little signals that the kids pick up very quickly.  I’m really enjoying seeing the transformation happen so quickly. Groups of kids gather, make their plans and…3 2 1 and Freeze! They tell us about their tableau. It’s about a group of people working together in a job.  Or someone helping someone else. Their body language, eye contact, intense concentration all communicate something instantly.
The teachers engage the students in an exercise for responsibility, respect and group dynamics.
They “ice the cake” of the room evenly bymoving around the room with energy and physical awareness. They walk around in a random pattern and- “3 2 1 and find your group of two!”  They find out their partner’s name, age, birthday.
Laura asks, “How many siblings do you have?
321 walk!
Groups of 3! Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been?”
They’re learning how to listen. How to be respectful of their team member’s personal space.  To remember what they’ve learned. Retention.  Concentration.  They walk silently.  Much more to remember.
“Groups of 4! If there’s someone on the loose, adopt them!”
This time the suggestion of a question comes from a student: “What are your favorite hobbies?”
They’re not strangers any more.

Then, when they’re all are done, they’re asked what they’d learned about someone in their group. A silly response is greeted with a calm adjustment.  “What’s a positive thing to say about someone in the group?” She likes swimming. “Yes! TEAM!”

I get to steal a moment with one of the teacher assistants and ask her how she’s enjoying this day. Mackenzy is a graduate of DAREarts.
Mackenzy: “This is my dream job. I’ve been dreaming of doing this since grade four. Now I’m here.”
Tackling Big Ideas
A hand in the air, circular motion.  The kids make a circle.  19thCentury 1800’s.  We’re trusting you to use your inner discipline to group with people you haven’t been with yet today.  TRUST.
This is the kind of thing that terrified me as a kid. Still does, sometimes.  Meeting people and trying to remember their names.  This is a great lesson in deep listening.  And showing respect for other people by focusing on them instead of your own fear.
They tackle big ideas together.  They start to investigate different viewpoints.  Critical thinking. Arguments. Conversation, not confrontation. What makes Canada a great nation?
Young Leaders “Learn in a Different Way”
Two young Leaders, Mohit (left) and Josh (right) share their dreams.
I had a quick lunch break with Josh and Mohit, two older students who were sent here by their teachers to help them develop more leadership skills.
DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field explained:
“Two years ago, these two boys joined a DAREarts class of Rexdale students two years younger than themselves as a way to help the boys strengthen their inner leadership potential.  Subsequently, in their special role as Apprentice Leaders, they have apprenticed well as teaching assistants and grown to be excellent leaders and student mentors for the younger children, many of whom need a ‘big brother’ in their lives.”
Cathy: Josh, what is the one thing you want to take away with you today?
Josh:   My new friends! I want to hang out with them. I want to take home what we learned today.
Mohit: My teacher is telling us lots of stuff that’s helping us with this.  Geography. History. I’m learning things in a different way.
Cathy: Which art discipline do you like the most?
Mohit: Working with wood.  I just got a new tool. A hand tool. It does everything.  I work with the wood in my back yard.  I like to make stuff with popsicle sticks.  Hockey sticks! Made my own and played street hockey with it. Tried to make a baseball bat, but it wouldn’t work. Needs to be smooth.
 Josh:  I like music or drawing. Video games. Want to do what you’re doing. Be a writer. Also, I want to be a chef and have my own restaurant.  My cousin is a cook and he made an all meat pizza with no flour. He makes it in front of us and we learn. I like to take stuff and add spices to it.
He pauses, and offers me some advice.
–One thing you should do. Make hot chocolate with the marshmallows in the microwave at the same time, so the marshmallows fluff up but make sure you get it in time before they explode.  That happened to me once.
Mohit: When I go to high school, I will include the arts.
They finish.  I thank them and tell them, this is my first interview.  They sweetly reply, “You did a good job.”  I’m so flattered!  They get up and give the kids the ten minute lunch ending warning.
 
What makes Canada a great nation?
The hands go up. Canada lets you celebrate your culture.  Free education.  Freedom. The teacher prompts.  Be more specific.
Freedom of speech.
We have a lot of lakes in Canada.
We welcome people here.
We live in a democracy.
We like autumn.
Security.
If you’re in trouble you can stay healthy.
Less violence.  You’re not allowed to have a slave.
What makes Canada not a perfect place?
Too many taxes.
Too cold.
Violence.
Shootings. We still have problems with violence.
What makes us unique?
The ideas roll.  They’re introduced to the idea of what Canada was like during Confederation. Who got to vote. Who didn’t get to vote. Why voting is important now.
Why do people come to Canada?
The day is rounded out with a poignant story about the Potato Famine from a child’s point of view. “Give me three grains of corn, mother.”  And the sadness that brought those people to this country for a better life, from 1845 to ‘49.  The students lie, their eyes closed, on the ground.  Laura’s voice is washing over us.  We listen, and listen deeply.  With empathy.
Deep breath. Slowly open your eyes. Look at the ceiling. Left right. Wiggle toes. Sit up.
Today is just the beginning of a fantastic journey for these kids.  Next week, they’ll be on the DAREarts bus traveling to the museum, the art gallery, ballet studios, and I’ll be bringing their stories to you.
3,2,1…and learn.
DAREarts would like to thank all our community partners for being such terrific and generous hosts for the past 17 years.
For press inquiries, please contact Director of Communications Cathy Elliott celliott@darearts.com

Please visit the DAREarts website for information that includes all of our programs and ways in which you can help kids unleash their potential and become leaders in their communities through the arts.

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