Developing an ‘artist’s eye’ in a student is the greatest gift you can give them. The point is that everyone sees,but very few notice, the world around us. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. If you can get your students or children to hone their talents, then you are giving them a great head start on others. Below are some simple tips on how to improve their powers of observation and description. It may seem simple, but in simplicity lies genius. In future, I will upload more tips on how to think and write rather than putting sample passages on the blog. My next entry will show how to describe thunder and lightning. Enjoy.
TEACHING STUDENTS HOW TO THINK
Everyone sees, but very few observe. That is probably true of most students, especially those living in an urban environment. One cannot blame the modern student for leaning towards the survival skills necessary in the modern world. Imparting an appreciation of nature is a gift to them, however.
Nature goes hand-in-hand with self-reflection, an awareness of self and a sense of where we are placed in the grand theatre of life. Some simple exercises can help to foster a healthy regard for the complexity and scope of nature. Take the student/class outside and ask them to write down what they see around them. When they have finished, question if they have included: the clouds or sky, the birds or insects, the trees or grass and the sounds or texture of the natural world.
Higher order thinkers see the world in a different way. It may be divided into five basic categories. These are:
1. Colour- clouds, sky, trees, grass, moon etc.
2. Sound- soft, loud, distant, near, high pitched etc.
3. Shape- the contours and outlines of all aspects of nature.
4. Action (or inaction) – of all aspects of nature.
5. Texture- of grass, water, a beach etc. Is it rough, smooth, liquid, soft, hard, fluffy or gritty?
There are some simple ways to teach students to think like this. It merely takes practise, patience and praise. Pick the clouds, for example. Are they dove-white or gravel-grey? Is it possible to say they are whispering across the sky or are they simply brooding in silence? Are they puffy like pillows or are they boiling like tar? Are they ghosting or racing across the sky? Do they seem soft like cotton or liquid-filled like pitch?
It is possible to apply three or four of the basic categories to all features of nature. Grids should be made out in the vocabulary notebook with these five headings. Even if a guest speaker has to come in or an outing organised, compiling a list of birds, their colour and their movements in the air should be encouraged. A similar list for types of native animals and the edibles with their seasons should also be included.
Finally, the three senses of sensation, smell and taste should be referred to also. If the grass feels as cool as silk, the scent of pine is in the air and even the air itself tastes fresh and crisp, the educator is doing a wonderful job. Using creative metaphors, similes and lucid imagery will add to the menu of excellence. The last technique to master is laser-eyed attention to detail. Underneath is a grid for edibles that may help the students.
mushrooms fungi nuts herbs spices fruits
other identifying features
For much more of the above, please check out my book Writing with Stardust which is now available on Amazon. You can also click any of the book titles underneath.