Seven Great Things A Mural Should Do:
1. Give students a voice and a platform to express themselves.
Murals should reflect the history, experiences, needs, and aspirations of the mural makers and the local community. It is important that everybody has a role to play–everybody’s ideas are considered. This is especially important for our students who have not found success in academics, but have other strengths ready to share.
2. Bring people together.
Making murals using collaborative and democratic methods, provides a tiny microcosm, a working model of the world we want to build. Even though we can’t create total unity and cooperation among all people, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t paint and aspire towards it. With this in mind, as an organizing tool, murals can bring students, parents, and school staff personally closer together.
3. Have a meaningful message.
Murals should not only be aesthetically beautiful, but should also educate, challenge, and inspire. At their best, murals are layered with meaning and speak to wide audiences, unveiling their messages over time. Some messages are literal, some symbolic and abstract.
4. Build success and hope.
Participants not only learn how to make a mural, they gain skills and confidence to take on future community projects. If students realize what they can accomplish by working together on the mural, they will take away a powerful lesson on what people can do if they organize, collaborate, and work together to make their neighborhoods/lives better.
5. Expand the concept of history and history makers.
Murals give voice and presence to those communities and historical events often excluded in our society–women, people of color, gender issues, working class people, freedom fighters, etc. Mural making is a perfect time to go beyond the text books and have students and teachers get out into the community, incorporate local concerns, and through oral histories and photos, access the richness and wisdom of our students’ families.
6. Strengthen the ties between school and the community.
Murals provides students practice in bringing their educations back to their communities to benefit others. Language arts skills like reading, researching and writing take on authentic relevance as students see how their educational skills can be applied in meaningfully ways.