Reflections on Our Month with Andy Goldsworthy

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Ideas must be put to the test. That’s why we make things, otherwise they would be no more than ideas. There is often a huge difference between an idea and its realization…

– Andy Goldsworthy

The past 4 weeks at The Lab, under the inspiration of Andy Goldsworthy, have been full of learning opportunities, for the kids, and for me. We began this session, full of ideas for ways to facilitate building and creating with natural materials. We quickly realized that the real learning surrounding these materials, was happening through their deconstruction. Before classes began, I imagined children building structures of varying scale, from stones. Instead, they organized collaborative efforts to take the largest and heaviest stones down to their most basic forms by dropping the stones to break them into jagged smaller pieces, hammering those small pieces into tiny pebbles, and finally grinding the pebbles into dust.

We provided ice, large and small, and I imagined them connecting the small chunks to build larger forms, instead, they found ways to accelerate the melting process (salt, sun, warm water) and used tools to break 50 pound blocks of ice into a million fractured pieces. They observed the stone and ice throughout these processes, feeling the changes with their fingers, applying paint to reveal changing textures on surfaces, and ultimately they reveled in the accomplishment of returning the stone and ice, to sand and water.

image imageIn the true spirit of Andy Goldsworthy, they were working to “know” the materials. I am so grateful for this community, which embraces the child-led journey. I would have missed so much, if the kids had not shown me the way.

When I’m working with materials it’s not just the leaf or the stone, it’s the processes that are behind them that are important. That’s what I’m trying to understand, not a single isolated object, but nature as a whole.

-Andy Goldsworthy


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