March 22, 2011

Feast or Famine

I believe that art should be a way of exploring a concept through a tactile experience, rather than creating a predetermined finished product (e.g. If I was doing a project on transport I would provide toy cars to paint with rather than tell children to colour in a photo copy of a car).

But what about art with a theme around food. This is where I got to a road block of sorts. What is the ethical considerations about using food in art?

I always feel a little uncomfortable using food in art - I feel like we are wasting food and I want to teach my class about limiting waste and being careful with the resources we have been blessed with. We live in a society that has an abundance of food - but many children around the world do not have as much as we do.

When we made lemonade I was happy to 'recycle' the juiced lemon halves by making prints with them.
But when I see people cut up apples for the sole purpose of making prints with children I feel uneasy.
I liked the concept of these prints from The Imagination Tree using broccoli - but instead I would set out the broccoli stalk (after I cut off the florents to eat) to paint with.

One prac I did was at a centre that didn't make play dough for the kids because it used flour (a food) but I think that that is taking the idea too far.

But am I having double standards? Or am I over thinking it?
What do you think? Is there are limit to how you can use food in early childhood education? or does the fact we live in an affluent society mean we can use food freely (as long as it has a purpose)?


Wendy said...

Hi Erin

I love that you are thinking about this.

I agree that not using flour/ play dough is a step too far.

But do believe that you should teach children to respect all limited resources.

This can be as straight forward as talking about the issue with your children- talk about where it comes from, how we need to respect that it is not unlimited and not everyone is as lucky as us.

A really good way to go would be growing your own vegetables and fruit trees. Lettuce, radishes and herbs are a good place to start. Plus where I did my 0-2 prac had a passionfruit vine.... Stunning flowers!

Also find some children's book that talk about the issues.

Erin said...

Thanks Wendy - any great book ideas? :)

We have a little veggie garden at work, but the position isn't great and I seem to have killed everything so far! I'm thinking about finding some native plants that should be able to survive the heat and explore bush tucker.

Sarah said...

I don't make play dough, but I do make bread, which each child gets to knead and sculpt and watch rise and cook and smell and eat. I like it because the children get a similar experience to play dough, but so much more, including the real work of preparing their food.

Erin said...

I love that Idea - especially including children in 'real' work.
Making bread is so fun for boths adults and kids :)