The kids from his school were grouped with special needs children from a certain organization and together, each group had to produce a piece for the competition. As part of their participation, the kids were sent to a 3-hrs sponsored art course in end May which supposedly introduced the Naive Art techniques and there was also where M met his group mates for the first time.
On the day of the competition, M was accompanied by E and his dad who were sorely disappointed and extremely critical with the way the whole competition was carried out. Even though I didn't expect top notch quality when I realized the event was organized by the People's Association, I was shocked to hear their feedback.
There were parents who openly worked on their kids' art pieces when their entries were meant for the Under 12 category and the organizers didn't do anything about it. E and his dad were the 'play-fair' sort, so even though they could have done the same, they wouldn't though they were appalled and disgusted by what they saw.
M's team comprised of only Primary 1 kids, which means they were the youngest in the Under 12 category. The men didn't appreciate the wide age gap in the category which they thought was really unfair. Also, E was convinced from his walkabout that majority of the other participants in that category were way over age 10.
Plus he was sure from the school uniforms donned by other groups that M's team was one of the few that had special needs children. To him, it wasn't fair competition to begin with.
The part that I thought was the worst - the art teacher who accompanied the 4 teams from M's school left 3 teams (including M's) on their own, right from the start of the competition and spent all the 6 hrs with 4th team. As it turned out, her son was a participant in that team. The finished artwork from that team appeared (to E anyway) to be the only team from M's school that had been coached for the Chingay theme. Hmm.....
Frankly, I wasn't as upset or disappointed as E. Maybe because I wasn't there to witness it myself. But I think it had to do with my expectations of what I like M to take away from that experience.
I didn't expect him to win any prizes; if he did, it would be a bonus. But it is more valuable that he got to experience what it was like to participate in a competition, learn team work with team mates whom he wasn't familiar with and to work with special needs children. Also, the whole event took 6 hours, which required some perseverance from him to focus for that long, in order to complete the entire piece with his group. So as long as he has learnt something from this experience, it would have met my goals. Good enough.
The thing is, I am not sure if he did. From my chat with him after the event, he didn't seem to reflect much on his experience. Well, soft skills take time to develop and all experiences are good.
One thing I have learnt though - I have much, MUCH more tolerance than E in 'some' areas, which I shall not elaborate on the blog. :>
(pictures of the art work to be uploaded when the technical/software issue is resolved)