How can we provide better opportunities for learning to be expressed creatively? Do students have choice or does everyone have to do the same thing in the same way? What possibilities are there for students to explore different media for creative expression? How is creativity encouraged and developed?
During our Year 6 PYP exhibition unit next term, students will explore how ‘Social inequities create a need for action in the world’. Within this broad conceptual understanding, students will follow their areas of interest and decide on their own individual and small group inquiries. They will research and investigate their chosen areas independently, with support from teachers and mentors as required.
Instead of their usual weekly art and music classes, this year for the first time, students will further explore the central idea through a choice of art, drama, music, film, poetry or technology. While some of these will already naturally be incorporated into the students’ presentation of their learning, there will be a two hour block each week, devoted to a deeper exploration of their elected medium.
I was really excited by the possibilities of this when the idea was first conceived in collaboration with Elena and Dani, our art and music teachers. They were keen to work with kids exploring their preferred medium, rather than all 95 Year 6 students. The idea was further developed in a chat with Jeremy McDonald on the other side of the world, who asked provocative questions to help me clarify both the rationale and the details. There was enthusiastic support from the Year 6 teachers and I’m well on the way to finding volunteers keen to facilitate each of the groups.
Yesterday I shared this idea with a couple of young educators I know. One suggested a range of creative ideas to deepen the students’ understanding of social inequity through creative exploration. I think if she was in Year 6 herself, she might struggle to choose which of the groups to participate in.
The other provoked me to think about kids who might not be interested in any of the options. Will they choose film or technology simply because they are less interested in the arts, rather than because they find those options exciting? Will there be students who don’t like any of the options? Should we be offering something additional?
I know this plan is an improvement on the way things used to be, because
- Students will choose their preferred creative medium.
- They will have more time to explore it in a dedicated weekly two hour block.
- There are some new options which are not part of their regular program.
- They will collaborate with different people, rather than their usual class group and teacher.
- They will gain a broader perspective on the central idea and deepen their understandings through exploring it in other ways.
- The exhibition will include performance and display of their creative expression.