Wanted: Learning that nurtures innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. These skills play an essential role in helping us to flourish in a 21st century world.
Art without rules or boundaries in which the body and mind are free to explore and innovate, minus stereotypical constraints, can be a powerful and inclusive way to develop and stimulate individual thinking.
Alessandro Lumare is a visual artist. Simona Lobefaro is a choreographer. Their research project — Segni Mossi — was born in 2014 in Rome to study the relationship and common ground between the languages of drawing and dance with children and adults. The focus of their program is on nurturing creativity and social-emotional learning inspired by these art forms within a safe, free environment. Today the program is offered to kids and adults in primary schools in Italy.
The Global Search of Education was pleased to welcome Alessandro Lumare to talk about his work with Simona Lobefaro and its relevance in lifelong learning.
Alessandro, what inspired you to blend art and dance together?
I am an illustrator and Simona is a choreographer. We both connect our creative worlds with those of other people through the use of space. We would have continued our work in our own separate fields if it weren’t for Sofia, our daughter. Since Sofia’s birth, our communication has come to a different level. Do you remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? We felt the need and the urgency to use every tool at our disposal to get in touch with each other more and more. This whirlwind swallows up dance, art, our experiences as social workers, my work as a video editor and who knows how many other elements.
Do the children follow specific instructions from a teacher or are they allowed to create freely? How would you describe your teaching style?
For each proposal-experiment, we create a mechanism or an environment made up of a few simple but clear rules. Within this context, the children are free to explore autonomously. The more defined the context is, the more they like to exploit it, in the sense of reinventing it. Watching this process is a pleasure. Simona and I are part of the game too. We are the conductors; we move from one role to another. This nourishes our work and helps us grow.
Can you speak about the interaction among the children? How does that work in your program? Do the children tend to create solo projects, or do you have group projects, or do both?
Interaction is key in our work; interaction among languages, between inner space and outer space and certainly interaction among people. The interaction creates short circuits in the consolidated schemes. But it is a delicate and sensitive process. The context is once again fundamental: a protected environment that welcomes differences and enhances them. Our projects are mostly collective, even the individual projects eventually interact with each other through the group’s feedback and observations.
As we look at the children in your video, there is other “learning” going on. Can you describe the other learning that your technique nurtures? What kinds of skills do you think kids can gain from this experience?
As I said, we build environments rather than techniques. How children move in these environments varies from child to child. This experiment of autonomous exploration and the feedback provided by the graphic traces help us in centering ourselves and expanding the communicative possibilities of our body. The children, or rather the “experimenters”, are born. They quickly become familiar with our work methods, focusing more on the process rather than on the end result. They cooperate with each other and appreciate the different stimuli coming from different people.
You run training courses for teachers and adults as well as children. What are the main differences you see between the kids and the adults when they are first introduced to this interdisciplinary arts education? Why?
We conduct workshops for children and training courses for adults. The contexts between the two are different. The children only come to live an experience. The adults want to acquire skills on top of their experience. When the adults manage to immerse themselves completely into the Segni Mossi experiment, it’s interesting to observe how information travels through their bodies, in a different way, versus what happens in the bodies of children. Messages flow along more tortuous and complex paths, but the experience of the discovery itself is the same.
For learners who have no experience in dancing or drawing at all, are they comfortable working and playing in this way or are there challenges that block creativity? How do you overcome challenges when they arise?
The biggest obstacle is the stereotypes about what dance and drawing should be. We work with the participant’s material rather than with pre-established expectations. We work with the curiosity, the resistance, the frustration, the desire and the physical limit of that particular day. Every quality is introduced into the mechanism, which makes each and every experience unique.
Classrooms globally are more diverse than ever. Educators seek learning strategies that enable students and teachers to connect. How do you see the role of art in 21st century learning?
Art is fundamental to a growth path not because all of us must become artists, but because, as Bruno Munari puts it, “through the exercise of art we learn to make autonomous choices.”
Thank you, Alessandro.
(All photos are courtesy of Segni Mossi)
C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.
Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld