The Arts

Art Room

The Arts, in its literal sense, encompasses artistic pursuits that express and communicate one’s ideas about life. There are many forms and genres that sit under the arts umbrella. There are performing arts (which includes dance, drama and music) and visual arts (which includes photography, sculpture, media, painting, drawing and collage). Literature and writing are also often included under the Arts umbrella. The Arts provide students with knowledge, skills and understandings to express ideas, observations, experiences, values and beliefs. Arts Education enables students to use their creativity, imagination and senses as they develop, extend and enhance their understanding of arts practice through active inquiry, engagement and reflection, both individually and collaboratively.


What is Creativity?


Many people do not associate the arts with “thinking”. We are aware of the art “product” – the song, the picture, the play – but we are less aware of the process which creates that product. Yet the arts are not so much a result of inspiration and innate talent as they are a person’s capacities for creative thinking and imagining, problem solving, critical judgement, and a host of other mental processes. The arts represent forms of cognition every bit as potent as the verbal and logical/mathematical forms of cognition that have been the traditional focus of public education.


The most important benefit of the arts may be the education of the imagination. Imagination is a powerful tool indeed; if we can imagine something, we can make it happen. Imagination is an invaluable resource for seeking – and finding – solutions to problems, as well as in defining and acting on opportunities.


Our Vision


At Sunshine Heights Primary School, we believe that Arts Education is imperative for children, and we believe that it is more than simply learning how to paint, draw or dance. Our vision is to develop students who are creative thinkers, risk-takers and problem-solvers, students who are strong communicators able to express their ideas and opinions in a variety of ways, students who are able to innovate and share their visions, and aware students who think deeply about the world around them. We believe the arts are a catalyst for developing these skills and creative thinkers who are able to respond to a changing world.


We achieve this in art class through a fine balance between ‘information’ and ‘choice’. Our arts program still teaches students about the fundamentals of ‘art’ in the literal sense – students learn about styles of art, art techniques and vocabulary, art movements, artists and their famous art works. However, this information and education is largely used to ‘spark’ a student’s own creative thinking processes and responses to integrated topics as opposed to being there for them to ‘mimic’. Our art classes share a similar philosophy to that of the Reggio Emilia pedagogy. Children must have some control over the direction of their learning and children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. In our practice on providing students with choice, we reflect on the ‘Teaching for Artistic Behaviour’ philosophy that regards students as artists and offers them real choices for responding to their own ideas and interests through the making of art.


We see the teacher as a facilitator who provides students with stimulus that will engage their independent thinking skills, encourage them to problem solve and to think about things in a variety of ways. We believe that the teacher is there to work alongside the children and not simply to create formulaic ‘art’ products that replicate as oppose to innovate. We see the teacher as a creative thinker who is engaged in arts education – constantly seeking new ways of approaching arts education, developing their own professional skill set and opportunities to develop creativity and the arts in the whole school community.


We also believe in teaching arts both vertically and horizontally. Vertically means that the arts are taught as a stand-alone subject. Horizontally means that the arts are taught with traditional academic approaches to articulate and understand a particular subject or theme. This is more of an integrated approach. Our art classes are a stand-alone subject, however, activities within the arts classes are all based on integrated topics that students are exploring in their classroom environment so that students can extend their knowledge on topics, but also explore different ways of responding to, and sharing their ideas on, particular topics. When arts content is connected to content in other subject areas (such as math, language arts, science and social studies) through mutually-reinforcing objectives, student learning deepens in both areas. Students learn to see the connections and big concepts across disciplines. We see that the arts as a whole school approach and that creative thinking skills are integrated in every aspect of a student’s day.


Our vision is to develop Sunshine Heights Primary School as a creative hub – a place that is alight with creativity and forward thinking. This includes developing environments that are conducive to creative thinking. Our Art Room is a place that is non-traditional in many ways. It is adorned with second-hand furniture, vintage wares, inspirational posters and images, couches and a homely environment that makes students feel at ease, creatively engaged and explorers. We perceive the art room space to be ‘a third teacher’ (as emphasised in the Reggio Emilia teaching pedagogy). The physical space encourages encounters, communication and relationships. The arrangement of structures, objects and activities encourages choices, problem solving and discoveries in the process of learning.


This extends to the external environment of the school. We believe that in order for students to consistently be engaged and developing their creative thinking skills, they must be in an environment that sparks their curiosity. Developing school grounds that are filled with interest and opportunities for exploration is critical to this.


We believe in providing students with as many opportunities as possible – extra curricular activities (such as the hip hop choir), creative incursions and excursions (such as connections with ArtPlay, the Australian Ballet and live performances) and opportunities for students to creatively engage with their environment (such as school projects that create links with the community, the school, their learning and their cultures). As well as extending the current program to include a wider variety of artistic experiences for students. We also believe in engaging the whole school community in the creative development, creative thinking and creative environment we want to achieve at Sunshine Heights Primary School by inviting parents, family and community members to engage creatively with their children, participate in school projects and encourage their children to engage in creative activities.


We believe that:


Art is for Learning

  • Can reach a diversity of learners. Not every child learns in the same way. The arts by their very nature embody multiple learning modalities – visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic/tactile – helping all students learn.
  • The Arts help make abstract concepts more concrete and understandable. For example, math concepts such as symmetry, reflection, rotation, are more easily understood when students can explore them through dance/movement. In social studies, the study of the arts and world cultures helps students understand the diverse world we live in.
  • The arts (dance, drama/theatre, music and visual art) enhance the learning process for all young people. The systems they nourish, including integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities are, in fact, the driving forces behind all their learning.


Art is for Developing Life Skills

  • The arts develop lifelong skills of critical and creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, reflection and persistence.


Art is for Developing 21st Century Skills

  • Arts experiences that develop skills of communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity are needed for students to succeed in the competitive global economy and work place.


Art is for Multicultural Understanding

  • Arts experiences that build students’ appreciation of their own cultural heritage and the commonalities and diversity across cultures are essential to understanding our interconnected world.


Art is for Cognitive Growth

  • Arts experiences build cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor pathways in the brain.


Art is for Developing School and Classroom Culture

  • The Arts can transform the school and environment for learning – making schools places of collaboration and discovery.


Art is for Developing Personal and Interpersonal Connections

  • Arts experiences help students connect to themselves and each other.
  • Creating art is a personal experience – students draw upon their own understandings and resources to produce the result.
  • The arts develops young people’s abilities to express their personal vision and communicate it to others.


Art is for Sustaining Democracy

  • “The challenge to education has always been to raise citizens who are capable of active participation in the social, cultural, political and economic life of the world’s longest experiment in democracy, an experiment demanding a free, educated and committed citizenry. We are amazed to discover a new the role of the arts in realizing that vision and creating that democracy. That is why we offer it as a compelling reason to fully embrace the arts in our schools. It’s how to sustain our democracy.”


How we assess the arts


We use formative and summative assessment in our arts education.


Formative assessments are on-going assessments, reviews and observations in the art class. These include teacher observations on students’ thinking processes, artistic processes and creativity, discussion with students on their progress, reflective ‘artist statements’ to assist students in reflecting on their artistic and creative process and enhance their thinking and communicating, displays of student art work in hallways and through annual art show to enhance the value of their creative process and allow opportunities for feedback and improvement. Artistic behaviours are honoured and noted in ongoing assessment process. Teacher-created documentation that captures observations of students’ artistic behaviours, needs and accomplishments. Self-assessment that is both formal and informal. Collaborative assessment that includes peer coaching, group sharing, exhibitions and conferencing with teachers.


Summative assessment is used to make a judgement of student competency after an instructional phase is complete. This type of assessment is largely seen in the assignment of a VELS’ progression point on student reports.