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The Arts and Artists in Schools: Arts Integrated Learning

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Art in Schools

The Arts and Artists in Schools: Arts Integrated Learning

Art in Schools

Following on from my introductory talk at the Image Conference Malta 2016, I plan to research and develop my practice as an artist-educator through looking at the learning that emerges when artists work with students, in our case, foreign or second/third language learners. I'm not only thinking of what artists can do for these learners, but also what learners can do for the artist's own practice.

Visual Arts Circle Announced at the ELT Conference, Malta 2016

The Presentation of the Visual Arts Circle by Kieran Donaghy. The ELT Conference, Malta 2016. Image: ELT Council

The Visual Arts Circle

The Image Conference took place on Thursday 6th October at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta, where the Visual Arts Circle was announced. The Visual Arts Circle is a community of teaching practitioners whose aim is to explore the issue of multiple literacies and our role as teachers to be, not only teachers of language, but of multiple languages.

This is a response to the immense amount of communication and information that we consume daily in our Social Age (Social as in Social Media). We're dealing with a particularly visual language, but not exclusively. The image, moving or otherwise, is just one part of a convergence of multi-model communication, such as video, music, graphics and games. We find ourselves reading many modes of communication at once, in different contexts and in very short spaces of time. Due to the sheer volume and the time and space we are exposed to it, our reading is not always well done (due to lack of tools, time and decoding skills) nor is it very critical or deep.

Our ability now and in the future to decode then encode, that is to say, utilize these languages to communicate effectively, is called into question. Not only that, but we face a future where more than half the jobs we have today, will be obsolete. Where a "post-work" society looms. Meanwhile, because we live in a world of extremes, others continue to live in poverty and enslavement of mind, body and spirit, where just one literacy is beyond their reach. Where their voice is not heard, their plight unseen.

How can we equip ourselves and our learners with the creativity and spirit of adventure to navigate these issues?  As teachers of language, what is our role?



Chauvet Cave: The foundations of the creative process haven't changed in over 30,000 years. Image: Wikipedia

Artists in Schools

My area of interest is Artists in Schools: artists working with learners with and through their arts practice.

The arts equip people to read and utilize these multi-modal languages competently and effectively. New technologies zoom in, appear and morph before us, often so fast we can't absorb them or keep up. Meanwhile, the essence of the creative process, in my case the visual arts, hasn't changed over the 30,000 + years we have been communicating and reaching out to each other.

I aim to encourage teachers to embed the arts in their classrooms and infuse their language teaching practice with the empowering abilities of creative thinking and all forms of communication- be it sound, music, performance or of course,  painting and drawing - my own arts practice.


Emma introducing Kieran Donaghy, Founder of the Image Conference and the Visual Arts Circle, Malta 2016

Me busy introducing Kieran Donaghy, Founder of the Image Conference and the Visual Arts Circle, Malta 2016. Image: ELT Council

As I develop my own investigations, this body of work will naturally expand beyond this single initial post and  I will be contributing to the Visual Arts Circle community as findings emerge. But here we begin. And I would like to begin by presenting the inspirational work of Tim Rollins and the K.O.S. Everything I want to explore, discover and refine for myself is embodied in his transformative practice - transformative, not only for the students, but for the artist himself.

Here is part one. The next parts of the documentary continue on in YouTube. The age of the documentary shows how these concepts are not only NOT NEW, but also how low-tech and timelessly effective Artists in Schools projects can be. Following is TapeArt New Zealand, a team of artists who have been working with and alongside communities for over 20 years.




Tim Rollins and the K.O.S.

TapeArt New Zealand: Voyagers - Tape Art NZ at Dubai Canvas 2016

Further Reading

While a lot of the links below are focused on younger learners, with a little creativity the principles can be applied to adults and private language schools.