Philosophies The Art of Hand Built Pottery Multimedia


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The Art of Hand-Built Pottery

The Art of Hand-Built Pottery: One Child's Creativity

By Osanna Rosa



The Art of Hand-Built Pottery
Non-fiction Picture Book for Children

In developing the book, The Art of Hand-Built Pottery, my research questions addressed how and why children learn to be creative through interacting with non-fiction picture books. What kind of picture books help children to recognize and practice their creative potential? How and why is this creativity accomplished? With these questions and concerns as my guidelines, I conducted an applied qualitative research.

My participant was a six-year-old boy, who had already begun to construct and build pieces of clay. I worked with my participant over a period of six weeks, and built pottery along with him, developing a piece from each method of building. These methods are:
1- The Pinch method
2- Coil method
3- Slab method

I made observations of my participant once a week for one hour. I collected data, then analyzed and interpreted this data. I observed my participant with the following considerations in mind. In what manner does the participant recognize the relationship between his artistic creation and his creative process? What does this recognition mean in terms of his thinking and his learning development processes? I tried to understand the relationships between his creativity, his active intellectual and emotional involvement, and his learning development. I looked at the challenges that my participant pursued as a learner—challenges and pursuits that enhanced his awareness of his learning progression.

I show in the book how, through constructing his own pieces of art, the child came to recognize his potential by reflecting on his own experiences when working with clay. I present digital photos of the final clay pieces he created.

I believe that a similar experience awaits other children who use the book with the aid of a facilitator. My hope is that this book, will demonstrate to the reader how working with clay, with the aid of a facilitator, can bring about creativity, meta-cognition and greater self-esteem in young children.


The Relationship between Creativity, Acts of Creation & Reflection, and the Learning Development Process

The book, The Art of Hand-Built Pottery, is an instructionally designed unit, designed to help young children progress in stages towards building their own pieces of art. This curriculum is grounded in the following rational philosophical approaches: Constructivism, Existentialism and Humanism. These philosophies of learning allow space for diverse learning opportunities, providing children the opportunity to organize their own experiences in creating their own pieces of art.

This instructionally based unit is the result of the integration of complex, practical, learning processes and theory. In the unit, experience coincides with theory and philosophy. Theory is seen as part of the development of life, and learning is seen as a cooperative process. Experience and theory are combined to find a medium that works best for each individual in a certain context at any given time.

Theorizing from experience takes place when learning is approached with the idea of opening up the individual’s subjective experience. I strongly believe that this is part of our learning process. In reflecting on the correlation between my experience and philosophy, it is evident for me that learning is not about the one or the other but is the integration of both. It is this framework that allows for the organization of the many influences on learning, the many factors that motivate, transfer and explain the importance of the experience that refines the teaching and learning process.

The material and the steps presented in the unit are organized in simple and easy steps, allowing room for individual, personal contributions. Through simple steps, guided by a facilitator, children reading the book can acquire a sense of practice, which will bring about reflection and review. This reflection and review provide feedback to the child, which, in turn, encourages motivation.

It is important that the facilitator knows that the unit is only for the guidance. The unit is likely to elicit curiosity that will also elicit expressive feelings, free of criticism—a sense that there is more than one way of creating that small mug or plate that is drawn out of the same substance, “clay.”


What does the child expect to learn?

Each child has a diverse sense of understanding, derived from her/his own personal knowledge. This knowledge is based on her/his own experiences about knowledge. It is imperative, though, to keep in mind that this process is facilitated by simple instructions and a facilitator, possibly a teacher, who encourages the collaborative, child-centered learning process so the child is free to learn. As Carl Rogers indicated in “Freedom to Learn,” learning has a quality of personal involvement. It is self- initiated; and the learner evaluates what is taking place (Rogers, 1969, p19). This notion of progress assumes that the child‘s own skill level will develop and allow his/her potential to be revealed at its own pace. As the child becomes proficient, s/he will be better able to deal with their own learning process as they progress.

It is the reinforcement processes that can motivate each child to develop her/his skills to actualize the potential that lies within him/her. The process of engaging with the medium of clay helps to bring about not the mastery of building a piece of pottery, but rather the mastery of rediscovering what the child can do. This should be and is reinforced continually, emphasizing that there is more than one way to view the end product.

Viewed in this way, the learning process is about personal freedom and making choices. It is about commitment to oneself. Such a commitment leads to the idea of making choices and contributes to a sense of responsibility for taking action as part of being free in relation to existence.


The design of the teaching strategies in The Art of Hand-Built Pottery

This instructionally based curriculum, The Art of Hand-Built Pottery, is a mode of instruction that is largely based on a self-chosen end product. As mentioned, it incorporates simple, basic steps. These simple steps encourage each child to self-initiate and explore his/her own diverse experiences. Along the way, the child is likely to encounter many kinds of situations that will teach him/her to be self-reliant. The facilitator has the duty of supporting this learning process while giving the child plenty of space to keep moving and get actively involved in the transformative educational process. The facilitator encourages the child to reflect on his/her potential skills and recognize his/her creative abilities. Children are also given the space to make choices and take responsibility to further enhance their being as free individuals. This unit encourages children to freely express their own subjectivities without being influenced from outside. Children’s ideas develop through maturation and experience. They learn from activities that do not indicate that one way is right, or another wrong. The activities in the unit may be accomplished in different ways, and require the child to think and evolve on his/her own. The process reflects a notion of life as being continuously in flux.

This unit emphasizes the importance of personal achievement that at times encounters the possibility of failure. However, failure is part of life’s learning process. It is about gaining and losing to reach a balance rather than the extreme of one or the other. Carl Rogers said this process helps children to self-actualize, and that self actualization is a motivational construct (Rogers, 1969, pp19-20).

Life itself presents an ongoing process of learning and achievement in which personal growth is achieved. The humanistic approach is embedded in this unit. The unit provides children with opportunities that facilitate learning, and resources that emphasize making choices from within and taking responsibility.

The unit is a process of adventure that allows children the freedom to explore and become a creative learner. It is this process that will have the most effect, not only on the production of a personal art piece but also the process of thinking dialectically about the subject at hand.

The simple steps built in to the unit are a way to facilitate the process and allow a space for the personal contribution. This curriculum is grounded on the philosophy that a children’s creativity is subjective, the expression or way of releasing their thoughts and feelings. Children’s relationships and interactions help them to develop their curiosity and interests enough to raise questions. By looking for the answers through this curriculum, children will develop their ideas.

In order to help children use their own means to realize their potential, it is imperative to understand their developmental processes. Young children between the ages of three to six years old need tangible physical situations where they can build their cognitive structures for future development. Accumulated tangible experiences help them conceptualize and create logical structures. It is with their creative ability itself that children try to find their own way in the world. The sooner they are encouraged to do so; they begin the process of making choices at deeper levels. Their subjective experiences enhance their own self-judgment, allowing them greater freedom of choice.

To sum up, this unit will be a source of motivation to the child’s own personal growth. As mentioned, children contribute to this development by reflecting on their life experiences. The unit is based on philosophical approaches that postulate strategies that help children learn actively by exploring freedom rather than being a passive learners. The philosophies that have shaped the unit propose that we learn and theorize from our own experience. The learner best learns when s/he is open and believing in the many possibilities of human action when the whole human being places importance on understanding on him/herself.


December 22, 2009 | Osanna M. Rosa

All Images and Content Copyright© Osanna M. Rosa