In February 2023, together with 3 of my colleagues, I attended an Erasmus+ course in Venice organised by the European Cultural Academy which focused mainly on Teaching and Learning Through Art. This presented us with an excellent opportunity to develop our teaching skills within an international environment with the aim of promoting creativity and communication within the classroom.
This week long course was a great experience which helped me understand that art is truly everywhere and can be found in everything. Art can be a connective pathway in our classrooms towards reaching and teaching every child. It empowers our students to become more inquisitive and explorative in their learning. The various workshops and brain-storming sessions helped me to understand the benefits of art observation in the classroom and to explore different teaching methods by using art pieces as a source of inspiration and discovery with my students. It felt like a breath of fresh air and opened up new channels of thinking which both motivated me and inspired me to combine visual art with poetry and dance within my Drama classroom.
I went on to devise a series of drama/dance lessons for my Senior 2 students where they would learn different dancing skills and techniques to help them create a motif to show the different moods of the sea. They were going to use 4 different art pieces as stimuli to inspire their movement.
The art works used in class were:
v Wildflower Coast by Erin Hansen
v When the Sky Sings by Debbie Bonello
v Heavy Seas in Etretat by Claude Monet
v The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai.
We also made particular reference to the poem The Frowning Cliff by Herbert Asquith which we had already covered in term 1 as part of our Literature syllabus.
The purpose of these lessons was to enable students to respond to Poetry through body movement and to interpret the theme of nature and the Sea in particular, inspired by the visual art work that was presented to them in class. In this case, I was reframing Visual Art, Dance and Poetry with the aim of helping students draw inspiration from the art work and create movements and sequences that were unique, beautiful and captivating.
Using gesture-drawing through dance, students created a final choreography based on their response. The narrative of the poem and the visual art paintings were used to express movement, emotion and creativity.
The final form was that of creating a dance choreography to the song ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Billie Eilish inspired by Art to express emotion and movement.
Art is connected to life. It is not just about pretty pictures. It is related to every subject, every thought, every form of inspiration. We can teach anything through art because the centre of all art is found within ourselves. Creativity gives birth to critical thinking without which we cannot open ourselves up to
ask the harder questions in life. Art opens up all those passageways and possibilities to think beyond what we already know. I hope that these lessons will serve so that the students can explore new modes of thinking and learning. It doesn’t matter if we are studying English, history or science. What matters is that we are creative.
“Creativity that satisfies and affirms your world view is Entertainment. Creativity that challenges and disrupts your world view is Art” Neil De Grasse Tyson
Ms Caroline Pullicino
Drama & English Teacher