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  • Simon Faiers

Extracting some masterpieces...


Well, the comic drawing session at Wandsworth Town Library was today, and I'm feeling very happy with how it went. The lady who organised it, Lily, expressed concern beforehand that not many children might turn up this far into the summer holiday, but actually there were quite a lot of kids - all primary school age - and they sat and listened quietly during my presentation and engaged with the activity afterwards. The only real hiccup happened when I'd finished with the presentation and asked if the children felt ready to draw some comics and they all gave me blank looks.

I'd forgotten a couple of vital principles from my teacher training and time spent helping out in primary school classrooms. One was that you have to ask the children questions in order to engage them rather than just spewing information at them, and the other was that you have to "scaffold" your activity. In this case the scaffolding took the form of writing a comic script with the kids. Thinking very very quickly (and panicking a little bit) I asked them to call out ideas for characters, ideas for a setting, and to tell me what should happen in each panel of the comic, and wrote the script on the projector as we went along. As it turned out, the story (which involved a unicorn, a rabbit and a frog in a basement casting body-transformation spells on each other) had a very satisfying beginning, middle and end, and was silly enough to evoke a giggling fit in the children. After that I told them to get cracking with drawing the comic based on that script and they all proceeded to make up their own stories instead. By the end of the session I had enough finished comic strips for Lily to stick up on the library walls.

Times like this I remember how much I love working with children.

( The other nice thing was I got to use my tortoise character in the Powerpoint!)


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