Friday, August 31, 2012
Wreck This Journal Redux
For ten-year-old F though, my lone bookish girl buddy, no amount of work is too much. So I've been sharing with her my copy of Wreck This Journal (introduced here and here) and we've used it as a launching pad to create our own wrecked journals in cheap, endearing composition books. It's a non-compulsory part of the school experience, so at first F was the only one to really take the bait. "Wreck a journal?" she said, her eyes huge and gleaming. But when we flipped open to a random page and attempted to follow its instructions ("Give this page to a friend. Ask them to do something destructive to it. Don't watch"), the boys were intrigued -- and more than willing to assist us in our destruction. Although only one of the boys has succumbed to the temptation and insisted on his own journal, it's become a process that the others are actively interested in. They actually fight to pick a page from the source book and challenge us to obey whatever it says.
One of the best parts of all is the fact that there are no rules, which means we have to scour our imaginations for our own creative interpretation of the instructions. When I brought along a recent copy of Frankie to cut up and use in collages, F was aghast. "I can't cut up your beautiful magazine!" she said, "That'll ruin it!" I assured her that this was exactly the idea. Even cooler, the fact that we aren't striving for a certain standard of perfection means that no page is "right" or "wrong". If this was a worldview, it'd be dangerous. In learning to boldly try new things with paper and paint, however, it's just fun and a grand challenge.
[Brilliance of brilliance: the folks at Penguin have released a teacher's guide for exploring Wreck This Journal. You can find the downloadable pdf at author Keri Smith's blog.]
Edit: boo! The pictures are all pixely! I don't know how to fix this, but if you click on the images, you can see them in all their hi-res glory.