Can you imagine a world without art? No driving down the highway with the windows down and the music blaring. No staying up all hours of the night binge-watching your favorite television series. No visits to the Art Gallery to take in your favorite artists. No one to create movies, music, or paint. This doesn't sound like a very stimulating environment, does it?
Some educational philosophies only emphasize the importance of academic studies and that Art is simply a hobby or something we do during our free time. Yes, the academic side of education is vital in the development of our youth, but so are the arts. A report by Americans for the Arts states that students who frequently partake in the arts are four times more likely to be admired for their academic accomplishments than those students who do not.
Through the Arts, students develop the imagination to visualize a better future and the creativity to put that vision into motion. Educating students in the Arts also inspires voice by celebrating students' identities, empowering them as creators, and making choices regarding their learning.
At the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), the Arts are essential to our curriculum across our Early Years, Primary School, and Secondary School. It is embedded in our daily teaching practices as one of the four pillars of our educational philosophy. Through the Arts, our students build confidence, increase concentration, develop their social skills, and gain an appreciation for diversity.
As educators, we endeavor to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to showcase their artistic skills at school and beyond our campus. Whether through a theatre production, a music concert, or an art show, students at WISS can shine in their chosen art discipline.
Recently, a group of Secondary School students put on a theatre production of the renowned play 'An Inspector Calls.' After watching the show twice, I was mesmerized by the skills and talent these students possessed. The confidence they showed, the concentration of remembering their lines, and the collaboration that went into putting it all together were truly amazing to watch. All of this because of an Arts Education.
At the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), the Midlle Years Programme students from Grade 6 through Grade 8 alternate quarterly between Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. This is valuable to students as they have the opportunity to experience the Arts from different perspectives and develop a sense of curiosity for future study.
‘Creative Arts Sharing’ is an event where students have the opportunity to showcase the concepts and skills acquired over during their studies to their peers and teachers. Within these art disciplines, students explore the theme of ’Telling Tales’ in relation to the Global Context of ‘Personal and Cultural Expression’ along with the concepts of artistry and creation.
In Music, students investigate the stories behind songs and why some musical artists use storytelling to convey meaning and emotions. Students form bands and collaborate to choose songs they prepare for a final performance. While doing so, students can explore and develop their musical skills and techniques on their chosen instrument.
In Theatre, students explore ‘Telling Tales’ by collaborating in groups to work on improvisation, modeling, and slapstick comedy techniques to create short films and live theatre skits. All of this in preparation for a final performance as part of the Creative Arts Sharing Event hosted at the school.
In Visual Arts, students investigate the theme of ‘Telling Tales’ by utilizing their knowledge of graphite and charcoal to blend and shade portraits in order to create animated-looking creatures to help share their stories. For the final sharing, visual art students go on to present their designs and take questions from their peers and teachers.
The Arts Programme at the Western International School of Shanghai is designed to help students develop their creativity, critical thinking skills, and self-expression. The arts are an essential part of a student's education and can be used to enhance learning in other subjects as well.
Our Arts teachers are experienced professionals who are passionate about their subjects and dedicated to helping students succeed. They work closely with students to help them develop their skills and talents and to encourage them to explore new areas of interest within the arts.
Arts education is an important part of a student's overall development, and we are committed to providing our students with an exceptional arts programme that helps them to grow and thrive both academically and personally.
Contributions by Colin Mosher, Head of Creative Arts at The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS).
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