( Robot and basket models made by students from electronic scraps)
I have heard that creativity blossoms in freedom and felt a kind of certainty that it must be so. A few weeks ago when a very organisationalist lady with post graduate engg. qualification appearing in the school as a volunteer wanted to make art through power of hierarchy – of all things, art by task oriented teams of computer hardware and electronic mechanic students – I said it could not be done that way. She was no artist but had a list of concepts that she wanted artistically created by students using scrap materials. She would give only a cellophane tape and everything had to be done by students with available materials only and the exhibits should be ready two weeks before the actual date of exhibition! (The original idea of students creating something out of scraps came on the occasion of a planned visit by a group of teacher and students from Europe who make a few days visit to the school annually and perform some music and dances. The students of the school also make some performances as a return courtesy.)
Two days later, there were hardly a few students into the activity and they were not getting anywhere near to realising her listed concepts. It was clear that the exhibits could be created only by giving students the freedom to create what they could out of the materials available. It was also an ideal opportunity for the teachers to act as friends and guides rather than instructors and task masters (which is one of the three essential principles of education enunciated by Sri Aurobindo in his essay National Education for India).
It was explained to the executive that the kind of the “concept to artistic form” activity she was trying was possible only with arts college students and not technical students.
The students (all of whom were high school passed) at last had the necessary freedom to imagine and create what they could and they came up with several exhibits. As there was no rigid deadline they went on working till the last night before the exhibition day. A few of them voluntarily spent a lot of time beyond school hours and also a few hundreds of their pocket money to finish their exhibits.
Some others made small models such as a robot from computer motherboard heat sinks, basket from data computer cable wires, skating board from CD’s and keyboard, satellite from testing board and container, flag stand from remote calling bell antenna and curtain fabric etc – all discarded items. They spent only an hour or two to make each of them utilising the time between academic practical exercises. They were seen fully engrossed in that work which could not be seen when they were into their routine activitites. It was clear that creativity is a joyful activity and that is its own reward but it needs freedom most of all to blossom.
(The pictue above by Georgio was copied from Auronet login page where it was posted last month.The students who made these and other models from scraps that were displayed in the exhibition were mostly from my class but some of them were created by a couple of my students put under other teachers whose students themselves had mostly not participated. Seeing that they were more keen to make robots, race car and aeorplane models, I cautioned all my students about the rampant materialist tendency in the world that seeks ever greater comforts through machines and also drew their attention to the fact that a greater future of humanity – according to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo – will not be through sheer mechanisation of life but by perfection of life with the spiritual consciousness.)