|回顾野果三年的工作 | Date ：2023-08-13 | From ：iamlimu.org
I have always worked as an artist, and although some of my works and projects involve
educational content, in the end, my artwork is still the core and purpose. I didn't take
the initiative to do education or want to change anything in education. What I think
about the most is the language of art, the exploration of forms, the advancement of
artistic concepts and ideas, the progressive relationship between works, and the
development of my artistic career.
In the process of sorting out the work on "Wild Fruit", I felt that this work was no
longer an art project, it was always changing, and I couldn't grasp its direction. Each
class is like an art exercise, which can stand on its own, but it is a process of
interconnection and growth between classes. Where it will end up is impossible to plan
Stage 1: Excess Knowledge
Students: 6 people
Age: 6-10 years old
Class location: MF studio outdoors
At this stage, there are leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, and the theme of plant hunters,
and a workshop is open to the public.
(1) Don't imagine, observe, observe, and depict truthfully
At the beginning, I read a lot of botany books, and I thought that the children should
learn a lot and improve their painting skills, but this knowledge became an obstacle for
us to attend classes.
The first lesson was for the children to collect leaves and then sketch on them. It
seems very simple to an adult, but a child does not look at the leaves in his hand, but
simply draws the shape of the leaves in a very general way, and then draws some
This situation reflects the importance of observation, because children love to imagine
drawing. When parents see their children drawing those symbols in a whimsical
manner, they will only see the imagination of their children. In our opinion, it is actually
a simple drawing that is taught in school, or an image that we have seen in some other
place and stored in our memory, which is not very accurate. It's not about observing a
real thing with your own eyes, it's just a not-so-accurate, illogical representation of the
concept in your head. In our opinion, this is precisely the obstacle to learning art – one
of the first things to do to learn art is to observe.
So in our class, Zhang Fang began to train the children's observation skills. What she
does is take the smallest unit of an object, like a seed, a leaf, in her hand, and draw
what you see with your eyes on paper. Don't exaggerate, don't imagine. Children
should practice observation, and after they have done it, describe what you have
observed in words, and then the next step is to draw it.
We also had a lot of setbacks during the lesson. At the beginning of the lesson, some
of the children ran around the studio like little beasts released from their cages,
because we told them that they were free here. When I lecture and share each other's
ideas, they don't listen, always interrupting others and rushing to express themselves.
That's why I feel very tired all the time. Zhang Fang said, "Li Mu, you may not be
suitable for teaching, but you are more suitable for being an artist. "But when I think
about it, I'm not actually suitable to be an artist. The reason why I can still get my
hands on a few pieces is because I put my whole body into it, and when I put my whole
body into teaching, I believe I can make a difference.
(2) Silent practice
After that, we started to use the "silent practice" method – after each lesson, we did
not go directly to the teaching session, but started with silent practice. There are many
ways to practice silence, and we have used Marina Abramovich's method: two people
in a pair, you look at me and I look at you, without talking, only breathing. But most
children can't do it for even three minutes, and they start scratching their ears and
cheeks and can't sit still. So we say to these kids, "Can you do it in five minutes?" "The
next time it becomes six minutes, and then it goes from six minutes to seven minutes,
then to ten minutes, and at most to fifteen minutes. And we go to grab a handful of
rice, count how many rice grains are in a handful of rice, count them one by one, and
use ten or fifteen minutes to calm the child down. This kind of practice is like a ritual
that allows the children to enter the classroom relatively smoothly.
(3) Addition of the body
Classes in the studio are more about observing, drawing, and making, but later we
slowly realized that for children of this age, it is not enough to exercise their brain and
hands-on ability, but also to participate in the body. So we started outdoor classes,
which were very difficult to control, but children could use their bodies to perceive
things, not just their eyes, brains and hands. This experience also affects the classes
in the studio, such as a class on berries, where we usually observe and then draw on
paper. But after we realized the importance of the body's involvement, we let them
draw on paper with berries that they could eat while drawing. In this way, everyone can
be very engaged and focused on doing something, and the differences in
concentration and patience between children are gone.
Among the things that really work for the child, our curriculum accounts for a small
proportion, and more of his external environment such as home and school. We are
beginning to realize that our work is a small part of the larger environment, not in
isolation. We started encouraging parents to get involved in our curriculum and talk
about education and the arts.
After a year of training, the children's works are basically no longer imaginary,
freewheeling paintings, but can honestly observe an object and then paint.
We were happy at the time, but then we overturned the idea because we felt that this
kind of teaching limited the possibilities of the child. Maybe we have achieved some
results, but in fact this result is not exactly a good thing for children, because we value
knowledge too much, we value drawing skills too much, and drawing skills and
knowledge are not important.
(4) The influence of nature on children's growth
Through the observation of children in the outdoors, we found that children living in
cities are completely separated from nature, they have no relationship with nature, and
they have no interest in plants. Some parents take their children to the park on
weekends, but the park in the city is not real nature, it is pseudo-nature. Because the
vegetation in the park is artificially trimmed, it is more a reflection of the will of man
than the will of the plant itself. Even though we occasionally take our children to the
wilderness and camp, we are all consuming nature and not really having a relationship
with the land. So what kind of impact does true nature have on a child's development?
On the other hand, what is the impact of the environment of the consumer society in
the city on children?
The problem in our studio is that children are impatient, avoid difficult tasks, and cut
tasks when the teacher is not looking. We have observed this problem for a long time,
in fact, children are afraid of difficulty, which is inseparable from the influence of
consumerism. In the city, everything is bought for money, and even going to nature
requires spending money. In this consumer society, the process of making an object is
stripped from the child's life, and only money can be spent to buy a result. And this
result can be constantly updated through consumption. In this case, the child does not
have the opportunity to experience a thing, and does not have the opportunity to
experience the hardships of the process of creating a thing.
So we started thinking about the relationship between consumption and us. In the
summer of 2020, our family lived in a mountain in Chongqing's Banan District for 28
days. There is a two-story stone house, which was built by a local artist and two
villagers who took two villagers from the valley to pick up stones and move them one
by one. There were no electric lights, no refrigerators, no gas, no running water, not
even windows in this house. I did some research on plants there, and the most
important part of this was to observe how my five-year-old son behaved in nature.
After nearly a month of experience and observation, I am very sure that such a natural
environment is very beneficial to the growth of children. He finds pleasure in dirt,
stones, and leaves, his concentration in the observation of insects, birds, frogs, and
ants, and his balance in running on rocky hillsides, which is an ideal place to educate.
Nature can enter the child's soul, not just to exercise his behavior or concentration.
So this brings us to the second phase of our course.
The second stage: the free Meiwanli
Students: 12 students Age: 6-10 years old
Class location: MF Studio, Meiwanli
(1) Lesson about bug
Three kilometers from our house there is a huge wasteland, called Meiwanli, which
used to be a village. After the village was demolished, it was deserted for five years,
overgrown with weeds, and every autumn, the Canadian goldenrod, small fluffy grass,
and ghost needle grass all grew to nearly two meters tall. This is our classroom, where
we are no longer teachers, but naturally our teachers.
During the class in Meiwan, many children did not want to sit on the picnic mat and
stood there, because they were afraid of insects. Since everyone is so afraid of bugs,
let's take a lesson about bugs. The first class was to catch insects in Meiwan and raise
insects; The second lesson is to go back to the studio, observe the bugs, and draw
bugs. In this way, when they return to Meiwan, the children are no longer afraid of
In the wild, children's bodies and minds can be opened to perceive the natural
environment and learn about specific plants; Returning to the enclosed space (the
studio) allows you to think, analyse and digest the previous experience more rationally.
In this way, our classes alternate outdoors and indoors.
(2) 1 square meter of land: continuous observation of plants
It is also very important to keep an eye on the plant, as it can be seen when the plant
is observed for a long time in a fixed area. We designed a project where everyone had
one square meter of land in Meiwan and fenced it off. When we returned to the studio,
we began to design the fence of the square meter of land and draw the design draft.
Then take the design draft and materials to the wasteland to implement it, and turn the
design into reality by yourself.
One day, when the heat reached 33 degrees Celsius, under the strong sun, some
children were reluctant to work because of the unbearable heat, and some children
insisted on finishing their work before resting under the big tree. At that time, my
understanding was that nature has its beautiful side, but also its very cruel side, and
it's all nature. What we should give our children should be such a real nature, not the
kind in the picture, only spring or autumn. No matter how hot and cold it is, nature will
not pity you, and the only thing man can do is to strengthen his willpower and be able
to adapt better to nature.
(3) Only in a state of physical and mental freedom can nature have an impact on the
child When we come to a place where we are very free, the children don't seem to be
free, because what they do is designed by us and written in the lesson plan. So we
reversed the previous curriculum design and decided to just give the kids the tools
they could use and do whatever they wanted in the wilderness. So they used these
tools to do all kinds of things, and when they got out of class, they came and said,
"Teacher, when are we going to class?" and I said, "We're in class," and he said,
"We've been playing, we're not in class." Hearing this, Zhang Fang and I were very
happy. It feels right, and it gives the kids freedom.
In this state, they don't need the teacher to tell them what to do, they just need to tell
them that it's time to end the class because it's getting dark. But the children were
reluctant to leave because they were in a working state. Only in a state of physical and
mental freedom will the child be immersed in nature, and nature will have an impact on
Later, in the class in Meiwanli, we designed a lot of task cards, and they made
choices, and went to work with the task cards they chose. Some children don't like
these tasks, so I prepare a lot of blank cards and ask them to write down what they are
willing to do and complete it. Later, the children didn't need my work cards and
preferred to design their own work.
The first stage of the exhibition was arranged by Zhang Fang and I, and the children
came to attend the opening ceremony. At this stage, we let the children set up the
exhibition and make the exhibition a part of the curriculum. We spent three days
together, the first day combing through our work and seeing what we had done this
year; On the second day, we learned what an exhibition is, how others have done
exhibitions in art history, and then discussed what kind of exhibition we should make,
and discussed the appropriate exhibition methods according to our own works. On the
third day, the children set up the exhibit on their own, and we just provided tools and a
Stage 3: Classroom without a teacher
Students: 3 people
Age: 6-10 years old
Class location: Meiwanli Shihu Wetland
At the end of the second phase of the exhibition, we told our parents that our family
might leave Suzhou for a while and go to live in Yunnan, so we needed to stop our
classes for a while. At this time, several parents of children suggested that it was a pity
that this class was stopped, and they hoped that we could give online lessons to the
children, so that they could turn on their mobile phones in nature to class, but I did not
After several years of teaching, I found that these parents are very fond of learning,
and they are also very outstanding and excellent in their respective fields, and they are
fully capable of leading their children to study and research in nature. In addition to
this, I also thought about whether it would be possible to form an educational
community with several children and families, and everyone could help each other to
form a group. First, children in the city need nature, and we have found such a place;
Second, children also need a relationship with a group and a community.
In the past, every parent was faced with how to educate his children, and if he had
money, he would let his children go to a better school, and the relationship between
children was one of competition. But if it is a community together, everyone is in a
relationship of helping each other, which is very beneficial to the growth of children,
and parents are no longer isolated. Parents ask us to take online classes out of
dependence on teachers, and if the teachers are suddenly withdrawn, then this matter
is a bit difficult to progress. Therefore, we propose to continue to design the
curriculum and let the parents implement it - in which the role of the parent has
changed, from the companion to the observer, the learner.
Every week after their lessons, we will have an online meeting with parents to listen to
their observations and discuss what the next lesson will be. In this case, the role of the
teacher is hidden until the parents themselves can do a good job and can continue to
push the matter forward. Whether we are there or not at this time will have no effect on
At the beginning, I designed the curriculum, and parents could carry it out with it. This
was done about three times, and by the fourth time, 9-year-old Gao Chang said that he
really wanted to design the course, so we decided to give him the task of designing the
course through negotiation. If he has a problem, I will give some comments and
suggestions, and he will not only design the course, but also conduct the course. At
first, I thought he was just trying to have a good time, but I didn't expect to stick to it
all the time. After each lesson, parents and children will give him a lot of opinions, and
then he will have an online meeting with several other children before each class to
discuss the content of the next lesson, and then he will prepare the lesson.
I don't know if these children and parents will be able to go further in the future, but I
can feel that what we really want to do is moving forward in some way. I was thinking
that if this group of parents could carry out this kind of nature and art education by
themselves without the need for teachers, then I thought that another group of parents
could also carry out such activities on their own, and our nature and art education
might benefit more people, and then build such a community of mutual education.
Li Mu 2022
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