A favourite part of my day is walking to work. A favourite part of that walk is when I am a block away from my school and I walk between two huge murals. Beautiful pieces that celebrate our school, neighbourhood and community. Today I was devastated to see that one mural (on the side of Out to Lunch Catering) was covered in graffiti. Waves of white spray paint and large figures like this (below) covered what is usually a gorgeous, lush Vancouver scene.
Since this is my “borrowed community” in the sense of where I work, not where I live, I decided to make sure those who lived in this community were aware. I brought my class out to look at it in the afternoon. It is literally a half block from the school. We walk by it on the way to skating. Many children walk by it on their way to and from school. We are a school that just got a mural we are very proud of. This matters to us. So education for us today was in our classroom. For a little part of the day, our classroom was the sidewalk.
There were many questions. That’s what kids do best! Why did they do that? How will it get off? Will the police come? Did the owners of the building cry? Are they mad? Can it be fixed? Why did “those people” want to be mean? Some students were pretty passionate about it and instantly thought about how upset our mural artist would have felt if this happened to the mural at our school. Some kids were equally fascinated by the rocks that lined the building. Which was another great on the spot lesson on being respectful to space, including outdoor space that wasn’t ours and that was meant for all to enjoy. Teachable moments are everywhere! And students provide them if you can’t find any!!
We then had a discussion abut how students felt looking at it. Many shared: frustrated, sad, mad, aggressive (when I asked about this one, the child elaborated that it made him want to yell at the people who had painted on the mural) and disappointed.
We spent a few more minutes talking about how graffiti typically gets off buildings. More children shared their outrage and confusion and we walked back to school and wrote for ten minutes. Most children chose to include what they saw and how it made them feel. A few simple sentences to convey how they were thinking and feeling and making sense of this. Many drew a picture at the top and then scribbled over it. Like graffiti, scribbles over art.
One little guy wrote that his heart broke into pieces when he saw it. Kind of how I felt. A yucky feeling. Kids just call it – this was not nice, a mean act.
This writing below says: They spray paint on the mural and I am mad and they heart my feelings. Hurt is spelled heart. It is all kind of intertwined.
We are fortunate to go to school in an area surrounded by beautiful murals. Today we talked about how it feels when our art got scribbled on. Not good.