“Creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” Sir Ken Robinson
I was a general classroom teacher for 15 years before specialising. Yet I can honestly say I never taught any of my students to read in all that time.
There simply aren’t enough hours in a teaching year for merely teaching skills to mastery. Students need miles upon miles of mileage to truly master reading. And by that I don’t mean decoding text. I mean reading for meaning.
Instead what I aimed to do was inspire. Inspire a love for words, phrases, unpacking an author’s point of view and predicting a reader’s inference.
By unlocking the code of reading for meaning, students’ thirst for adventure, for knowledge, for losing themselves in imaginary worlds, drives them to pursue reading independently. To seek out genres that they personally find engaging and fulfilling. The growth in my students reading levels across the learning year, was staggering.
Six years ago, I specialised in teaching visual art and digital media across kindergarten to Year 6 (ages 4-11). Again, I applied the same methods. As a specialist you may see every student in the school but for very little time. Personally, I may see a student for 18 periods a year. Hardly enough time to scratch the surface of all the possible skills that live within these subject.
So I modelled my approach on the way that I used to teach reading.
My aim is to awaken a love for creating.
I see my role as establishing the context and providing the support for students, that inspires them along the path of personal exploration/s and to build their confidence for self expression and communication through a visual medium.
Once they experience that intrinsic satisfaction unique to a creative experience, they are hooked.
For me the true test of whether this method works is not the work produced in class, often skill based explorations due to minimal time and curriculum goals. It’s the independent self directed work that students take on beyond the art room - the creativity they apply to classroom work or home based pursuits. It’s the parent who tells me about how their child won’t let them go past a stationery or art supply store without buying something or asking for solutions to store the growing piles of artwork at home. It’s the child that is conceiving, prototyping, creating and making solutions to everyday problems. It’s the child that sees such problems as opportunities to be innovative.
Visual Art is not a stand alone subject, only to be taught in specialist art lessons. It is a transdisciplinary way of thinking that can positively influence all aspects of our students’ lives. Visual Art is not about making pretty pictures to hang in the school corridors. Far more important and useful is the thinking that come before the product.
A final product has one use but the soft skills developed during the creative process are what makes Visual Art an essential area of learning for students.
Art with Mea
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Thoughts on Teaching
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