THE CON­NECT­ING DOTS

Art Across The Cur­ricu­lum

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - EMMA DAVIES

IN an age where in­no­va­tion is high on the agenda, Ananda Marga River School in Queens­land is ahead of the curve.

Art at Ananda Marga – a com­pul­sory sub­ject – in­cor­po­rates a rev­o­lu­tion­ary ped­a­gog­i­cal ap­proach to de­velop prob­lem solv­ing abil­i­ties, crit­i­cal think­ing skills, and in­no­va­tive ideas that can be trans­ferred to other sub­ject ar­eas.

“We fol­low a neo-hu­man­ist cur­ricu­lum and neo-hu­man­ist ed­u­ca­tion which looks at all lay­ers of hu­man de­vel­op­ment and gives a high con­sid­er­a­tion to the Arts as a fo­rum of chan­nelling stu­dents’ cre­ativ­ity and their sense of well­be­ing,” Prin­ci­pal Anne Donoghoe said.

“We have an early child­hood cen­tre to year six, and every class has an hour art les­son each week; a qual­ity art les­son with a spe­cial­ist art teacher which goes above what hap­pens in class­rooms.”

The key point of dif­fer­ence is the school uses art to closely align, com­pli­ment, and deepen the chil­dren’s learn­ing in the class­room.

Arts and Cul­tural Stud­ies teacher Ali­eta Belle said teach­ers at the school value art as an­other ped­a­gogy, and so she works with class­room teach­ers to find out the main fo­cus for the term.

“For ex­am­ple, in year four they are study­ing the his­tory of an­cient Egypt so in art we in­cor­po­rate it. I was fo­cus­ing on clay, so we made clay pen­dants with themes in­spired from Egypt,” she said.

“Art and sci­ence work re­ally well to­gether. Art and his­tory work re­ally well to­gether. It’s not just a to­kenis­tic way of do­ing art – it’s a way to imbed the knowl­edge the kids are learn­ing in the class­room.”

Ms Belle said that while guide­lines ex­ist for the stu­dents, art al­lows them to be in­no­va­tive, ex­per­i­ment, and to test their cre­ative ideas.

“If chil­dren are too used to be­ing sat down and taught a par­tic­u­lar way of do­ing things then they are not re­ally in­no­vat­ing,” she said.

“Art in it­self is not just that old fash­ioned idea of draw­ing an ap­ple that’s in front of you and draw­ing it well – it’s also about con­cep­tual ideas and de­sign.”

There’s also plenty of room for col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal artists, art shows, gal­leries and even par­ents.

“One of the Arts sub­ject ar­eas is Me­dia Arts and we en­tered our chil­dren’s work in child-cre­ated film fes­ti­vals, which we’ve had suc­cess in,” Ms Belle said.

“Last year there was an en­vi­ron­men­tal doc­u­men­tary com­pe­ti­tion for young peo­ple and our kids de­cided to make a film about fungi. We sup­ported them to do that and they won the com­pe­ti­tion,” she said.

“They are hav­ing ac­tual, real life suc­cess. Their film about fungi is get­ting screened daily at the lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­tre.”

Ms Donoghoe stressed that art is an in­te­gral part of stu­dent learn­ing and meets all the out­comes of the Aus­tralian Cur­ricu­lum.

“We re­ally see the value of art through­out the whole school and cur­ricu­lum,” she said.

“Not only are we talk­ing about de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity, it also helps with stu­dents so­cial and emo­tional de­vel­op­ment.”

“Schools are cut­ting back on the Arts be­cause there’s so much pres­sure to go to the academia – maths and lit­er­acy – but I think we’re re­al­is­ing (and there’s a lot of re­search to back this up) is that the more chil­dren are ex­posed to art in the cur­ricu­lum the more their maths and lit­er­acy abil­i­ties in­crease along­side their sense of well­be­ing,” Ms Donoghoe said.

Ms Belle said there has been a his­tory of leav­ing the Arts out, and while there are many teach­ers de­liv­er­ing arts classes in schools they are not nec­es­sar­ily arts spe­cial­ists.

“Be­cause art is recog­nised by ACARA as a sub­ject we re­ally do need the teach­ers who are de­liv­er­ing art – who don’t nec­es­sar­ily have train­ing in art – to go to pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment so that they are not giv­ing out colour­ing in sheets or teach­ing a very old, out­dated view of what art is,” she said.

“They need sup­port, and I think one good av­enue for pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment would be for teach­ers to go to their lo­cal gal­leries and go di­rectly to artists.”

“Teach­ers know how to teach, they just need to get good, qual­ity skills from peo­ple in spe­cial­ist fields to in­crease their knowl­edge,” Ms Belle said.

“In the chang­ing fu­ture chil­dren are go­ing to need those con­cep­tual and cre­ative skills that come from the Arts.”

“Art and sci­ence work re­ally well to­gether. Art and his­tory work re­ally well to­gether. It’s not just a to­kenis­tic way of do­ing art – it’s a way to imbed the knowl­edge the kids are learn­ing in the class­room.”

Stu­dents won first prize in the lo­cal show with a sus­tain­able project fo­cused on cre­at­ing an igloo out of milk bot­tles.

Arts and cul­tural stud­ies teacher Ali­eta Belle.

Every class has a ded­i­cated hour long art les­son each week.

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