Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review: Wreck This Journal

Last night whilst busily planning my lessons for the next academic year I suddenly thought of a book that I had got for christmas... 'Wreck This Journal' by Keri Smith. Wow, I wish I had looked at it sooner! Keri Smith dedicates the book to all of the perfectionists across the world. For those of you who aren't aware of it may think it's a bit of an odd title but the whole idea of the book is amazing. In fact, this book is so amazing that we have already used it's unique concept with our students by creating a great summer project last year that really gave the opportunity for students to face their fears and engage with the creative process. 

I was so excited when the book came back into my life yesterday that I immediately turned to the first page and began to read Keri Smith's warning to create is to destroy: 

"During the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet. You may be asked to do things you question. You may grieve for the perfect state that you found the book in. You may begin to see creative destruction everywhere. You may begin to live more recklessly."

You might of figured out by now that this isn't your everyday journal where you pick up a pen and write down your daily thoughts after a bad day. It is a sketchbook. A sketchbook for you or/and your students to practice what is said across the pages. A book that you or/and your students are going to turn into a piece of art and I can't wait to follow the ruthless instructions! Some pages ask you to rip or tear out the white sheets, whilst others ask you to do humorous things like use a page as a napkin or make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable movement with the journal. I'm dreading the instruction that states: break the spine. Shudder.

I love this book and the playful way that Keri Smith teaches people the act of creating by putting yourself right on the spot. Her prompts are perfect for a fun, creative 5-10min starter activity and can be easily converted into any visual arts subject. I'm using mine in photography lessons from September and think the students are going to love it. Here are some of my planned starter tasks:

• In a compositional photogram lesson students will - trace the things in their bags (or pockets) and let the lines overlap. Great!
• In a Kari Herer inspired photographic drawing lesson students will - draw different lines with a pen or pencil, lick their finger and smear the lines. Even better!

The ideas are endless and I'm a little bit in love with this book already. Wreck This Journal gives yourself and your students the perfect opportunity to be playful, messy and creative. Something that in the chaos of teaching and learning is sometimes forgotten. Another fun idea that would be great for the classroom is to tie some string to your journal, attach it to your classroom wall or pinboard and let each student wreck whatever pages they wanted as they pleased. Not only does it burst a little bit of creativity onto your blank walls but it allows students to grasp the idea of collaborative practice. It will also subtly unlock students preconceptions about what a sketchbook page should look like and make it more interactive - hooray! 

Wreck This Journal delivers so what are you waiting for? I know it's going to be my teaching resource for the new academic year and if any of these results are anything to go by I know what I'm going to be doing over the summer holidays.
- Kirsty 

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