Flow – the outcome

Last week I wrote about ‘Flow‘ and how I had observed one of my students drive her own learning in this state. My student is Laine, and she has very kindly allowed me to publish the outcome of her state of flow.

To remind you, the task was to use a picture depicting a war situation and to write a poetry piece about it. Laine selected an iconic image, one that many of you would be familiar with. The picture of the Viet Cong prisoner being executed by the chief of Vietnam’s national police. She researched the background to this photo and produced the following poem;

(This is a flickr picture labelled for commercial reuse – an illustration of the image Laine was using as stimulas. Visit the flickr page where the illustrator provides quite a bit of the background that Laine unearthed. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t using this page when she was searching for information)

Points a gun to his face

Small and barefooted man dressed in a plaid shirt;

Hands tied behind his back, unsure of what will happen next,

What is he most afraid of?

What he had become.

He was now situated in front of me because of what he did;

Responsible for thirty-four bound and shot bodies of police and their relatives.

This is what he had become, a savage act caused by a war.

Tough and commanding general, tempered but educated;

He is the personification of America’s hidden hand and dirty involvement in the swamp.

What is he most afraid of?

What he had become.

He held a gun to another’s head, and pulled the trigger,

He walked away knowing that warm blood was now gushing onto the street.

This is what he had become, a man who is judged by a photograph.

A press photographer, unintentionally standing in these streets,

Standing with my camera, I witness a prisoner being dragged by two soldiers.

What am I most afraid of?

What I had become.

A man entered my viewfinder; pulled a pistol out of his holster, raised it and fired,

I stand shaken, five-feet from where the now lifeless body is laying.

This is what I had become, a killer; I killed the general with my photograph.

Her poem is the obvious result of the research Laine conducted; self driven research motivated by a desire to understand.

Can I say I had anything to do with this outcome? Only that I allowed her the room to explore in order to reach an outcome like this. Maybe that’s the lesson here. We need to give our students the room to take their learning where they need to take it. In order to do this, we need to have flexibility as classroom teachers and we need to not let curriculum demands dictate moments where creativity should reign.

Laine’s creativity extends beyond the English classroom. She’s a photographer, and an exceptional one at that in my estimation. Check out her Tumbler blog and appreciate her talent.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Flow – the outcome

  1. Laine’s creativity is testament to what is possible given the right environment. How often does this not happen because, as educators, we have other plans for class work? Thankyou for an inspiring post, Jenny.

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