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Ashfield Public School

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Art Education: learning to wonder, and celebrate the world

Making space for creativity in the primary school curriculum is the theme of an article published last year by The Guardian. The article reflects on a current situation in primary education whereby art education is at risk of being deprioritised with higher expectation on student progress for reading, writing and mathematics. Often when we think of school improvement, we think of reading, writing, maths and good NAPLAN results.

Yet creativity is identified as one of the essential skills sets of the future. For example, think of an astute and competent website designer who deeply understands and applies aesthetics to create successful websites. In most organisational settings, as another example, leaders are expected to be able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to work-based problems.

Aside from the economic value of creativity in a 21st Century workplace, art transforms the human experience and brings joy and beauty to people’s lives. Art contributes to increased self-esteem and a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

It is important therefore that teachers treat art education with same discipline as maths and English. Lessons must be carefully planned, implemented and assessed to develop student skill and understanding. A lesson for example, might focus on how the artistic elements of colour and line help communicate to an audience certain information and feelings. In an assessment of these skills, students might apply their knowledge and understanding to create a poster to influence people in a particular way.

Similarly for parents, art education must be valued alongside maths and English results. Work samples should be scrutinised to understand how students are able to apply the elements of art to effectively communicate for a variety of audiences and purposes.

While art education in a primary school must be fun, engaging and deeply satisfying, it needs to be implemented with rigour and a focus on student learning, growth, next steps and improvement measures. According to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), 1.5 to 2.5 hours in a typical teaching week is assigned to the instruction of Creative Arts.

At Ashfield Public School art education is highly valued as motivating our students to be engaged learners. It is used to enhance learning across key curriculum areas. For example, think of a sketch that investigates symmetry in maths or a collage that represents the features of living things in Science.

It is widely documented that students whose learning is embedded in art education achieve better grades and overall test scores. Art education has been linked to better visual thinking, problem solving, language and creativity. Experiencing the wonder of arts is natural and necessary for all children as part of their learning. Clearly art education matters!

The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential. 2010. Robyn Ewing. ACER


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