A is for Arts, how we can deliver the arts within a STEAM themed curriculum
Alison Melrose, Headmistress at Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School
STEAM and STEM are terms often referred to, but what does this mean within the classroom?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths and the additional ‘A’ covers not just art, but more broadly, the arts.
Sparking children’s imagination is KEY.
Sparking children’s imagination is a key part of a STEAM curriculum, along with independent learning, hands-on activities and investigative activities. We often hear the four C’s referred to within curriculum design and how they can prepare our children for the future by developing the softer skills for collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. These four C’s need to be integrated throughout every aspect of school life and are easily interwoven within the arts programmes.
The arts are all about discovery and problem solving, integrating principles and presenting learning, and when both the analytical and creative sides of the brain are used together, we are developing the best thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.
The arts is a term which refers not only to art and design, but also includes music, dance, drama and debating.
Music lessons are important for growing confidence and developing the ability to collaborate.
Music is often at the heart of a prep school, and music lessons should be for making music. Children love being able to raise the roof and sing their hearts out. Dedicated instrument lessons are equally important, with schools developing whole class teaching to learn a variety of instruments from violins and recorders to drums and ukuleles. Not only do these lessons promote excellent listening skills, but are also key lessons for growing confidence and the ability to collaborate and perform together in recitals and concerts. Music has many cross-curricular links with language and mathematics, but it is also a brilliant creative outlet.
Dance is a great way to develop friendships, with many forms of dance being inherently social and fun. Learning how to move and groove, being mindful of space and others around you, and often all at the same time, can be both challenging and very rewarding.
Art and design lessons are not only about refining motor skills and creating pieces of art and sculpture. Children learn how to think and act as artists, makers and designers, working creatively and intelligently. They develop an appreciation of history and culture, as well as an understanding of how art has shaped our lives and links so closely with maths and science. The use of digital technology is closely woven within the arts and none more so than within art and design. Our children now grow up with innate skills and understanding of how to use technology seamlessly within modern life.
Drama lessons cultivate emotional intelligence and empathy in children.
As we prepare children for our fast-paced world, where they will be the global citizens and mobile workers of tomorrow, we must also remember drama and debating. Drama not only develops self-confidence but also emotional intelligence and empathy, an ability to see things from a different point of view. Having a strong moral compass is important and being able to explain and stand by your point of view within a debate is an essential skill.
When children are assessed, as part of the application process at key transition points, schools are not only looking for academic achievement but also for the four C’s which are interwoven within the arts curriculum. Therefore, studying the arts helps our children prepare for the future, not only to collaborate, be creative, think critically and communicate, but also to be adaptable, responsible, flexible and successful.