In the Middle School at LHC we are now into the fourth year of the implementation of a connected, themed curriculum approach. The themes are; Investigation, Relationships and Creativity (see the LHC website for further information). In the first weeks acting in my current role as the Middle School Creativity Team Leader I visited every Year 7, 8 and 9 class across their Creativity subjects – Music, Visual Art, Drama, Health & Physical Education and Home Economics. I attended classes with every teacher who teaches in the Middle School Creativity Team across each of the classes, from 7A to 9G.
Overwhelmingly I observed our students engaged in diverse and dynamic learning. And, while we generally associate the Creativity subjects with their outcomes – the performance of plays, bands playing music, artworks on display, food prepared, garments constructed and sports played, this is not the important part of what we do in Creativity.
It is the diverse and dynamic learning I observed in diverse and dynamic classrooms (art studios, performance and rehearsal spaces, sport pitches and fields, kitchens and textiles rooms) that is significant. The rigorous learning and teaching taking place each lesson is important because we are not producing actors, musicians, artists, chefs or athletes. While we would love for some of our students to follow these paths, or to be successful in a range of related professions (such as curator, producer, arts historian, playwright, fashion designer, nutritionist or coach), what we really want is the way we work and learn in our subjects to enrich the girls’ learning and life generally.
The new LHC Learning Futures Framework and Classroom Learning Design underpin the Middle School approach to teaching. Across Middle School Creativity we focus on developing higher order thinking skills. We develop creative and critical thinking by analysing information, reasoning, reflecting and evaluating, especially with consideration of diverse viewpoints and experiences. Initiative, problem solving and critical decision making are employed to make new connections, to identify alternatives, to innovate, to generate new ideas and options, and to make and create new things in new contexts. This forms intellectual flexibility – solving problems and searching for new way things to do things makes our thinking supple and allows us to think around obstacles. In turn, we can become resilient learners – challenges are embraced, problems are there to be solved and mistakes can become happy accidents which add to the deep learning occurring.
We build the capacity to clearly and effectively communicate ideas, information, emotion and experience to diverse audiences by using written, visual, performative and verbal language. A culture of practice, precision and perseverance fosters a personal ethos of quality and further builds resilience as we learn to plan, organise and manage ourselves and our time.
Each of these skills are transferable, applicable and valuable across the curriculum and across life in the 21st century. The learning I witnessed across classrooms across the Middle School Creativity Team build skills which make better people and more effective, engaged learners who are active participants in our community.
This rigorous, academic approach is what Music, Visual Art, Drama, Health & Physical Education and Home Economics are about. For many years, as a Visual Art Teacher I have been saying, Visual Art is not about pretty pictures but rather it is concerned with the acquisition of deep and authentic skills alongside a love of learning.
However, as a bonus, we, as audience are able to share in what are, at some level, pretty pictures - djembe drumming circles, jingles, movie scores and rock bands, clowning routines, theatre sports performances and contemporary plays, sculptures, paintings, illustrations, lino prints and etchings, a healthy school lunch box, alternative pizzas and plates of fusion foods, teddy bears, boxer shorts and tote bags, futsal matches, athletics displays and rhythmic gymnastics presentations - but really these are just the fruits of the deep learning taking place every day and in every classroom across our Creativity subjects – Music, Art, Drama, Health & Physical Education and Home Economics.
Creativity Team Leader (Acting)