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24 May 2019

posted 23 May 2019, 16:45 by Carolyn Brett
When we asked for our parent whānau to feed into our strategic direction a while ago, your response was pretty much a keep doing what you are doing, people, BUT we want more Music, please! Music is one of the 4 elements of a vibrant Arts Curriculum - along with Visual Arts, Dance and Drama.

We are intent on keeping The Arts alive and well at WBS and will not let anything stop us. One of our thought leaders, Sir Ken Robinson, would be proud. In his work on 'Finding Your Element', he often laments that schools have become lacklustre and unable to allow for freedom of expression or creativity to flourish. I know it takes careful planning, energy and an innate desire to provide an exciting learning programme for our tamariki. I know that The Arts can also push boundaries for some of our staff and take them out of their comfort zones, so I am impressed with the Growth Mindset they often model in their own learning and also the support for each other. 

So, when we look at Music, we have made some serious movement in 2019 thanks to our teacher learners and passionate parents. This year, due to your fundraising efforts, we have employed Henare, our fab Kapa Haka expert tutor for weekly sessions of waiata, actions and recently new moves with tī rākau. Thanks to committed parents, we now have our very own Orchestra (who are sounding so good!) and our Kiwilele/Ukelele group has started this week. All of these happen on a Thursday! So, for some of our children, they must certainly wish every day was Thursday.... and why not?!

Our Matariki Celebration will be upon us before we know it and this year we have a focus on Music Making. Watch this space - you will find out more soon. Now this is a bit of a taster to what we will be revving up to in Term 3 - yes, the annual Arts Celebration for 2 evenings of merriment. Please diary Wednesday 21 August - Thursday 22 August.

We have a very full on Professional Learning and Development programme for our teachers (PLD). That's what they are doing in the staffroom every Monday after school and every Thursday before school. After a day with the children on the Monday or rushing to get to work early on the Thursday, we need to be able to shut aspects of our professional and personal lives off and others on. To help us to get in the zone for learning, we often start the sessions with what we call a Positive Education (Pos Ed) starter.

This can be anything from a game to a breathing exercise, singing, some yoga moves or a time for a written reflection and the like. Often there is a Music theme - linking to positive emotion. Teachers can then use some of these simple techniques back in the spaces with the children. Some of these PLD sessions lately have also been Music orientated - with our teachers learning how to compose music using GarageBand. 

Here is a little about what the New Zealand Curriculum says about The Arts:

Arts education explores, challenges, affirms, and celebrates unique artistic expressions of self, community, and culture. It embraces toi Māori, valuing the forms and practices of customary and contemporary Māori performing, musical, and visual arts.

Learning in, through, and about the arts stimulates creative action and response by engaging and connecting thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings. By participating in the arts, students’ personal well-being is enhanced. As students express and interpret ideas within creative, aesthetic, and technological frameworks, their confidence to take risks is increased. 

My feeling is, if The Arts has the ability to do all this for our younger learners, then it must certainly be good for our older learners too. I want our staff having plenty of opportunities to get creative, take risks and enhance their personal wellbeing - it's a no brainer!

So here's to keeping The Arts alive and our staff and community volunteers also learning and growing alongside the children. Here's also to keeping our eyes and ears open as we don't want to overlook anyone. This is a funny anecdote from a radio interview with Sir Ken Robinson last year:

“But anybody who knows anything about education knows the real key to improving education is teaching.”

Contrast his experience with that of Paul McCartney, whose music with the Beatles was avidly followed by the young Sir Ken in Liverpool.

“I can remember ‘Love Me Do’ exploding into the airwaves of Radio Luxembourg which is what we used to listen to at the time in Britain. I couldn’t believe how great this record was. I’d never heard anything like it.”

Decades later, interviewed for a book, McCartney told him he hadn’t enjoyed music at school and his music teacher didn’t think he had any talent. Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison was in the same music programme a couple of years later and the teacher didn’t think he had any talent either, McCartney said.

“I said, well look would it be reasonable to say this, that there was this one music teacher in Liverpool in the 1950s who had half the Beatles in his class and he missed it? And he said ‘yes’.”

Sir Ken points out talent doesn’t always show itself.

“Human talent is like the world’s natural resources, it’s often hidden from view.”

Food for thought! Here is the full interview.

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