So I’ve been volunteering at a new place this semester. Before, I was teaching biology at Sociedad Latina. And it was total disaster. Every week, for those six hours a week, I dreaded going. Something had to change. After consulting with my Civic Engagement Program advisor (who was very understanding) I switched organizations, to the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club.
Thus I’ve been volunteering in the Boys and Girls Club art room for the last few months. It’s been so much better. So much. For one, there’s a lot less pressure. I’m not expected to teach kids science, in a fun and engaging way, every week, 6 hours a week. I’m also not expected to keep them in line, by myself, as I was at Sociedad. No. At the Boys and Girls Club, I simply assist the head art teacher as he engages the kids in various projects. And we’re working with art. I love it. The kids love it.
Yeah. Switching was the right decision. I actually look forward to volunteering now.
Still, it’s a challenge. The kids are still crazy, and the place is still chaotic. Imagine giving a room six and seven year olds craft supplies. Now imagine what the room would look like two hours later.
(It looks kind of like this)
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, and that photo is NOT of the Boys and Girls Club. But still. It gets crazy.
The atmosphere of the art room is much more relaxed as well. At Sociedad Latina, kids were *supposed* to do their homework in silence. In the art room, kids can casually chat while drawing their pictures.
Which means I get to listen in to the thoughts of our generation’s elementary and middle schoolers…
Sometimes it’s been nothing short of horrifying.
Or a little gross…
Or sometimes, totally heartbreaking.
The art teacher and I have noticed some rather upsetting trends among the kids, in fact. Call me a stickler, but I honestly don’t think these kids need smartphones.
And– this is going to sound really hipster, but I’ve seen it in action– these kids are often a little brainwashed. Spoon-fed by the media, I guess. They’ll spend their time obsessing over Nicki Minaj and LMFAO, reading sensational murder articles to each other, gossiping about Kim Kardashian. And they’re, like, 10. I was shocked by this conversation I got into with a kid…
Perhaps the most difficult thing is to get kids to try. Art is a touchy subject, it seems– when kids’ drawings don’t turn out exactly the way they want on the first try, they give up. Immediately. Or they’ll ask you to draw things for them. I try to explain the importance of persistance, how essential practice is. But I suppose, at that age, it’s hard to imagine.
But I really have to take everything with a grain of salt. I don’t know what it’s like in their shoes. I didn’t grow up in the city, in a poor or disadvantaged area. My parents have always pushed me to be independent, to think for myself, to fight to excel. Some of these kids don’t have the luxury of being told that they can.
It’s been an interesting semester.