Students present learning journey
Stars will fall in wheat fields at Patchewollock this month when Tempy Primary School presents a musical combining digital content and live performance.
Multi award-winning playwright, composer, director, designer, dramaturge and educator Ant Crowley has been helping 17 students present an ‘authentic glimpse of life in the Mallee through the eyes of students’.
Principal Cheryl Torpy said the school was lucky to be paired with Crowley through Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools, a ‘creative learning partnership’ as part of an Artists in Schools program expansion.
“We use digital technologies to bridge the geographic divide that often prohibits our communities from accessing creative professionals,” she said.
“Our school was paired with Ant, who enters our classroom weekly via our Polycom virtual conferencing equipment.”
Mrs Torpy said watching Crowley and the students collaborate on a script in real time, hundreds of kilometres apart using Google Docs, was amazing.
“Children’s poems, stories and improvisations turn into lyrics and dances. Paper and pencil artworks are now animations and our students are recording with Garage Band to make soundscapes,” she said.
“Every child’s learning journey, from prep to grade six has been everything anyone could imagine 21st century schooling to be.”
‘When a Star Fell in Our Wheat Field’ is an allegorical fairy-tale exploring themes of change and transformation, through the imagination of children.
The audience will experience the ‘story’ the students invent, as well as their own story.
Crowley said the ‘story within a story’ would present several interesting connections.
“I think the students – and their community – have something to teach us all about adapting to change, particularly change that is not driven by choice, but necessity – and I think this reveals itself in an allegorical story – woven through video diaries – and informed by the wonderment of the landscape,” he said.
“The imagination and willingness of the kids to take creative risks while making ‘When a Star Fell in Our Wheat Field’ is inspirational. I wish the city kids I teach could watch how the Mallee kids work, their problem solving, their teamwork and their talent.
“They are extraordinary young people with less opportunity than urban kids to experience the performing arts firsthand. It’s been an eye-opener watching them create their own lyrics, dialogue, dance moves and scenes, experimenting with puppetry, animation and songs while they’re working in Tempy and I’m directing them via TV screen in a small room hundreds of miles away.”
Crowley said the experience was a huge learning curve.
“The Tempy staff and their parents have shown enormous courage and willingness to embrace virtual technology to enhance the educational opportunities for their kids,” he said.
“Hats off to all involved. We still have the most important part to go – the performance at Patchewollock Town Hall on November 24.” The show starts at 7.30pm. People can visit http://tem pyps.global2.vic.edu.au for more information.