Thu | Sep 29, 2016

From the diary of a teacher

Published:Sunday | March 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Rolle Twanda, Contributor

Who would have thought that painting with my grade-four children would have led to a big wash day? The children of grade four really love art. They are always eager to paint or engage in any art activity. As a matter fact, they would love to do art every day. They would always ask for activities like this.

"Miss, when are we going to paint?", they would say.

One Friday I decided they should do some painting. I woke up extra early and gathered all the painting tools, brushes, pans, paint, water-colour paper and packed them in my bag and headed to school. As the morning progressed, the time for painting drew near. It was spelling first, then a little language arts. They weren't aware that they were about to do painting. I decided that it would be good to separate half the class by removing some of the seats and putting them outside. I instructed the boys to move a few benches outside. They were beyond excited and overjoyed to move the benches. They busily lifted and moved the benches around until at least three benches were outside.

Directly outside the classroom, a small step leads to an open area with a garden and a trough where children get their water to drink. When everyone sat down, I started handing out paint. The students quickly filled their water at the trough and were ready to paint. As I issued the paint and brushes, they started mixing away. Students from inside the classroom came running out to me for paint and containers.

They also went to the trough to fill their containers for paint.

I was bombarded with "Miss I want yellow!" "Miss I want some blue!" "Miss I want some green!" When they got their paint they returned to their seats inside.

One student accidentally knocked over her container and all the blue paint was on her skirt, soaking through. She immediately ran to the trough to wash it away, now she was soaking wet. Before I knew it, paint was everywhere. On the desk, on the ground outside and the class inside, the children painted everything! As I was stepping outside the classroom, I saw one boy running in with his face painted like an African warrior. Then they started to take their brushes to paint each other and their white blouses got soaked with paint in all different colours.

They painted the blackboard, floors, doors and windows. When I went back inside the classroom, everyone was covered in paint.

There was some hand soap on my desk inside and I saw the children running in to take it up.

"My father is going to beat me," one girl exclaimed. She then started to wash her white blouse at the trough. The other girls and boys saw and started sharing the hand soap. Then the washing began. Everyone took off their tops, leaving on their under shirts and started to wash. I looked in shock as I saw them scrubbing away the colours in their khakis and white blouses with bubbles endlessly flowing. Some even put their clothes in the trough, and washed. When I looked at the children washing at the trough it reminded me of a wash-day scene at a river in some rural Jamaican community. To see them gathered at the trough with their hands going up and down, washing happily as if their lives depended on getting their clothes clean. They squeezed the hand soap even more and washed and washed, bubbles flowing until the ground was covered with suds. The suds flowed out through a hole in the fence and on to the street. I am sure some passers-by got suds on them!

When the children were through with their washing and all the soap was finished, it was time to hang their clothes out to dry. Some clothes were hung at the window while others were hung outside on the plants in the garden. It was a flowerbed of white blouses and khakis. I should have thought that painting could lead to a big wash day!