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The workshops

By colormoods, Jun 26 2018 01:07PM

Bananas versus Birds


For my workshop program, I produced two different iconic cardboard shapes, a banana and a bird.

I divided the classes into two groups and marked the middle of the classroom as the border between the two countries, GDR (East Germany) and FRG (West Germany), using red and white striped barrier tape.


The banana had been allocated to the group representing East Germany and therefore the bird to the students on the West German side of the room. The children could see each other but weren't allowed to cross the “border” which they took very seriously.


The “west” kids were permitted to draw and write anything they liked on their birds while the GDR kids were limited to use triangles, rectangles and circles for their drawings on the bananas, strictly no written thoughts, feelings and favorites. The children were challenged to make the most out of what they had. Mostly they were a bit envious towards their classmates with the birds but then they recognized the creative potential of plain geometric shapes. On the other hand, the bird group seemed to be overwhelmed by the choice they had available and took longer to decide what to do with the bird shape. When this group acknowledged the freedom they were given, they became very confident and were less worried to make “mistakes”.


Apart from few exceptions the students enjoyed the workshop, stating it was great to work creatively since there is often not much room for art activities in the busy daily schedule.

It turned out that drawing is very popular as an opportunity for the children to express themselves, even if art wasn’t one of their main interests or talents. It was a pleasure to see them loosening up and using their imagination during the process. The decorated pieces are all unique and for the children reason to be proud of. The shapes come together beautifully in a large collection.


According to the questionnaires that I asked the children to complete, of the children who were trusted with the banana, about two-thirds would have liked to swop it for the bird if they would have been able to. Nearly all of the children who were assigned to draw on the bird did not want to swop. This represents that a total of about 3 quarters of all the children were preferring the bird over the banana. They were preferring freedom over restriction and choice over limitation. They all enjoyed being creative, proving that drawing is very popular as an opportunity for the children to express themselves, even if art wasn’t one of their main interests or talents.


I know that this is not how one gathers proper scientifically significant data but for my little social experiment I was happy with the outcome.


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