Drawings by children in scene 4 of Ark

These drawings were done by Keziah or Isiss on the way back from Coney Island, shortly after shooting scene 4 of Ark (April, 2002).

shine beauful nice

"This is cool"
"Really cool"
"I knew" [what would be inside the box]

Then we did a puppet show with little people


Ark, revisited...

I ran across these notes I had made on the day we filmed the last scene of Ark, in April of 2002, out at Coney Island in the freezing cold, with Keziah, Isiss and Rodney, ages 7, 6 and 5.
I had asked the children, during our shoot: What could be inside the box?

- I don't think we should open it because someone might be looking for it now.
- Let's just open it; it's just a treasure.
- Maybe all the way when some Indians lived at the beach and they buried it in the sand and some pirates be looking for it! For 15 years. . .
- I think it's fairies or I think it's golden shiny rocks and golden shiny jewelry.
- I can't imagine what's in it--let's just open it!

And then they opened the box. See this portion of Ark on the Digital Story Workshop website.


Early Childhood: Listen to the Children Play*

Last week I attended the latest meeting of the New York Voices for Childhood, a group started by Deborah Meier in the Spring of 2006, as a reaction to the recent developments in "school readiness" as put forth by the national and local departments of education. Rather than test pre-kindergarten children to see if they are "ready for kindergarten," the professors and K-12 teachers who have been attending these meetings believe that educators should be supporting the youngest children as they play, not teaching them how to take standardized tests at age 4. This group, NY Voices for Childhood, in collaboration with the Alliance for Childhood, is developing "a campaign to restore creative play and hands-on learning to preschools and kindergartens." Their goals are as follows:
1. to develop and implement a public information, engagement, and advocacy campaign, with outreach to educators, parents, policymakers, and others concerned about the well-being of our nation's children.
2. to cultivate multi-faceted media coverage--including print, broadcast, and web-based--that focuses on the broader picture of childhood and the need for creative play and hands-on learning.
3. to realign the education and professional development of early childhood educators with the tenets of experiential learning.

It saddens me that it has come to this, that our supposedly modern society has allowed our educational system to turn into a bureaucracy that has abandoned what Dewey and the progressives taught. We are plummeting backward at a steady clip, such that if we can ever get out of this quicksand of assessment-based education, we will have to re-learn those long-lost innovative and creative teaching strategies that once promised to positively transform society through education. Digital Story Workshop is but one tiny tool that can help interested artists, teachers and citizens to counteract the stranglehold testing has on our schools and, by extension, the children we have the responsibility of raising.

*with apologies to Manuela Testolini Nelson's organization, which is working on a documentary called "In a Perfect World . . . Listen to the Children."