Creativity in Corona Times
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Creativity in Corona Times

When secondary students were first allowed to return to school earlier this spring, ISUtrecht encouraged students to follow lessons of a more physical nature. These lessons included Art, Design, PHE, Music and Drama.

By Annabel Kjar and Soyoung Shin, teachers of Visual Arts

Teachers and students alike were pleased with this first opportunity to return to school. However, to maintain the 1,5m distance between students required at that time, our students were spread between the Aula and the art room in the new block. Soyoung Shin, artist and teacher worked together with the Art & Design teachers to enable this model of synchronous teaching with hands-on- individual guidance.

As a result of the restrictions placed in the Netherlands to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, in the past two academic years ISUtrecht secondary students have followed lessons fully online, a hybrid model (alternating a day at school/day at home while following lessons online) and a model with online lesson instruction and independent study tasks.

Although our students participated well in creative challenges and demonstrated maturity and independence during the periods of receiving online instruction and feedback, they did not participate in skill-based practice. During the periods of extended lockdown, our students experienced interrupted access to materials, instruments, and hands-on instruction and individual physical guidance. It is apparent that not only the social aspects of working together at school but the opportunity that working with physical materials gives and receiving individual physical guidance have been sorely missed.

What Art teaches

Working with materials in Visual Arts classes and learning and practicing skills gives students the ability to not only train motor skills (eye hand coordination), social skills, (interaction), decision-making (learning by doing), risk-taking (learning from failure) and inventiveness. They can explore ideas in ways that words cannot express and in ways that are imbedded in the IB Learner Profile. “Creative expression is integral to our identity as humans,” says Gary Tinterow, director of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “Art invites curiosity, develops perspective, and with that comes tolerance of diversity and difference.”

Grade 6 ‘Artivists’  create an installation to raise awareness for clean oceans.

In the grade 6 Visual Art lessons held in person at school, our students expressed their thoughts and feelings through various methods, expressions, materials, and mediums for various creative purposes. They created observational drawings of fish, using oil pastel, made colourful sculptures of fish and jellyfish and learned how systems in the natural world can act as an inspiration for creating works of art and design. Their works, created individually, will come together in an installation in the Aula in commemoration of World Water Day.

It is our hope that the students can not only gain personal benefit, social and motor skills from working with the materials in this way but learn that as young  ‘ARTivists’ that they have the talent and opportunity to raise social and environmental awareness to inspire positive change and action.