At The Bindal School- a two-hour evening program that we run with children from the Bindal slums six days a week- Saturdays are reserved for art. The children sit down to paint, chat and just have a good time after the week-long lessons in Maths, Hindi and English. At Street Smart, we do art thrice a week and the children use paints, sketch-pens and crayons to draw what they like.
A majority of the kids from Bindal attend government schools in the mornings. Their art reflects the pattern that is followed across most schools here- draw a border on the page, draw a flower, draw a few mountains and a sun either rising or setting between these mountains and a river flowing behind a hut and at the base of where the mountains end. That is all that we ever see in the art that is created by the children week after week. A few weeks back, we had students from a Social Sciences college here in Doon, and much to our surprise these college students too drew mountains and a stream and a hut next to a tree, as did our Bindal kids.
At Street Smart, the art is wildly imaginative and surprises us everyday. Though we are now understanding the style in which our kids paint, it is still unhindered and without boxes to cramp it in. They paint things that they seem, they paint to reflect their feelings, they paint to recall their experiences and then they paint just in the flow of it. Although we would love for each of these street kids to attend school, we are also glad that their art and imagination has not been in-boxed yet.
This observation has yet again highlighted the crucial and urgent need for our schools to think of out boxes themselves and to stop putting children through the current process that is not unlike an assembly line at factories with similar products as their final output.