‘Art helps students develop key ‘habits of mind’ that include: higher order thinking, creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to pose and solve problems, self-discipline, and self-confidence. These skills are necessary for success in art, and once learned, can translate to success in other areas of school and life.’
Kent Sidel, University of Cincinnati
The Visual Arts program at Mernda has been developed on a two pronged approach – starting in Foundation (Prep) with a predominantly process based approach and progressing towards a combined product and process approach as students move towards the upper grades.
To assist with the transition into school we begin Prep with a range of free choice art activities. This allows students to become familiar with a range of materials and processes before completing any formally set pieces.
Following a process approach means we provide the students with motivation or inspiration, in the form of a story, song, discovery walk, or class discussion and then allow access to a variety of materials with which they create their own pieces of art work.
Through the open ended nature of the program, students develop their confidence and produce unique independent pieces of work. This means that sometimes what they bring home is not what we, as adults, would describe as outstanding pieces of art, but the focus is far more on the processes they have used and the materials they have explored than on the final product.
The skills they develop through exploration are more formally refined and developed from Year 1 onwards at school and this allows the students to produce fantastic artwork such as those you can see displayed around the school.
Students develop the confidence to look at a sample of a finished product based art pieces and independently choose the mediums they want to work with such as acrylic paint, collage, water colours, printing, pencils, chalk or oil pastels to achieve their own visions. So whilst much of the Senior School art work may be based on a particular theme or style you will notice it is often made using different materials or media by different students.
Students are encouraged to choose media they are less familiar or comfortable with. This helps to improve their practical skills as well as their knowledge of what can be achieved with say, watercolour and ink as opposed to acrylic paints for example.
We explore the works and styles of a variety of artists and artistic styles. Students are given the opportunity to create using textiles, clay, painting, drawing, 3D constructions, mosaics, collage and much more both as individual students and as collaborative groups of artists in the art room.
After the Prep year the Victorian Curriculum considers each measurable stage of skills and knowledge development in Visual Arts to be a two year progression, rather than one year as per Reading, writing etc. So our programs are planned over a two year span to enable all students to experience as many media as possible over that growth and learning period. This means for example that a student in Year 3 may do paper mosaic work and then in Year 5 or 6 work with mosaic tiles.
Here at Mernda Primary School we have developed a Visual Arts Program that supports every student to have the opportunity to experience success, to be confident with their own creativity and to learn to embrace their artworks no matter how others may perceive them.
‘ART TEACHES KIDS TO:
Respect others, start a dialogue, experiment with materials, observe, find their own voice, self-evaluate, make connections, express themselves, learn from their mistakes, clean up, reflect on their work, embrace diversity, persevere, have an opinion, appreciate beauty, break away from stereotypes, envision solutions, value aesthetics, see another point of view, innovate.’
Elliot Eisner (1933-2014), Professor of Art and Education, Stanford Graduate School of Education.