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Conflict can be a family row over spilt milk

Pupils have been helping our appeal with an arts show based on the topic of confrontation. Adi Bloom reports

A TV remote control. A glass of spilled milk. An aeroplane heading into the Twin Towers.

All, according to pupils at Tidbury Green primary, in Solihull, are potential sources of conflict: items around which events can escalate into varying degrees of confrontation.

Conflict and resolution has been the theme of their annual arts week, with teachers tackling personal issues and current events through poetry, drama and the visual arts. Work produced during the week will be exhibited during the school open evening on July 3, and parents will be charged an entrance fee, with all proceeds going towards The TES UNICEF Afghanistan appeal.

"Children need to talk about issues and explore a topic - especially something like Afghanistan," said Jane Horswill, the school arts co-ordinator. "The arts and personal, health and social education classes are a good way to do it."

Pupils across the school spent the week examining what the words "conflict" and "resolution" meant to them. They studied photographs, many related to current affairs - such as the National Geographic magazine photo of the Afghan refugee, pictured as a child and then again many years later - and analysed the emotions captured on film.

Eight members of Year 6 were chosen to work on the topic with a guest artist-in-residence. They were selected for their insight into the issue of conflict: several had experience with bullying. All were presented with digital cameras and asked to record images of potential conflict in their own home.

Some photographed family arguments in progress. One child returned with a photograph of a remote control, another an image of her younger sister having just spilt a glass of milk.

"There was a great awareness of their own conflicts and how best to resolve them," said Ms Horswill. "We wanted ideas to come from the children and not from us. It's to do with emotional literacy."

The discussions of conflict resolution in the home also provided an insight into broader areas of dissent.

By the end of the week, many pupils were able to see a number of similarities between playground feuds and conflict on the scale of international warfare.

James Burton, 11, said: "When America bombed Afghanistan, it hit back at the Taliban. At home, if you hit brothers and sisters, they hit you and then you hit back."

Fellow 11-year-old Josie Higgins said: "When people fall out it's often silly things that they fight over. People should learn to be happy with each other."

Toys that can kill, 18

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