Whether you’re a patron of the arts or can’t tell your Monet from Manet, there are a myriad of reasons why they’re key to a well-rounded education. Find out how this international school celebrates the arts like no other…
We think most parents would agree that giving children the freedom of artistic expression is a major plus, but not every school walks the talk. At GEMS World Academy Singapore (GWA), the arts – including music, drama and visual arts – are all a key part of the curriculum. In fact, children from Grade 1 to Grade 8 have an hour of music and an hour of art every week, all year round. Primary Years students from Grades 6 to 8 also have an additional hour of drama.
Students in Grades 9 to 12 can select a particular area of focus and pursue diploma classes if they so choose. All arts subjects at GWA (Singapore) follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) format, giving students the chance to inquire and investigate artists of different times, cultures and genres.
Arts Week has become an annual highlight at GWA (Singapore), further bringing the arts into students’ everyday lives through interactive installations, ad hoc performances, lunchtime concerts and much more. We spoke with Arts Educator Claire Rimmer to find out more about the arts at the school, including highlights of this year’s Arts Week. Read on for a truly illuminating conversation!
What is your background in the arts? How did you get into art education?
I studied Art and Design at university and then trained as a design technology teacher in the UK. I’ve taught a mixture of both art and design throughout my career, and enjoy both subjects equally.
What do you like most about sharing art with kids?
The excitement and wonder you see on their faces when they see something they love, learn something new, or realise they can do something they never thought they could. We’ve tried to put the emphasis on exploring and experiencing the process involved in the learning of arts, and less on polished final performances and outcomes. That way, students are more open-minded and greater risk takers when being exposed to something new or different. Arts Week gives us the opportunity to take it to a different level and widen the possibilities.
How did the idea for Arts Week come about?
In our first year of school, the Arts Team wanted to create a series of events which allowed students to try something new and different that they hadn’t done before. We started small with a few events at lunch time – everything from Japanese drumming to Zumba. We also invited an artist-in-residence to come and work with us to make several large collaborative artworks to commemorate the start of the new school and a new community.
What were some highlights of Arts Week this year at the various grade levels?
The dance workshops run by Centre Stage School of the Arts are always a big draw for the younger students and we have run these for the last two years. Also for this year, we made sure all the Early and Primary Years students had a drama workshop with at least one of our visiting drama specialists from International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA), as they don’t get this during the regular school classes until they reach Secondary Years.
“The Obliteration room”, or Sticker Room – which we created for mainly the Early Years (EY) students – was a massive hit! In fact, we had all age groups and even adults wanting to share in the fun and add stickers to the space.
Inspired by the artist Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room, we have constructed our own large domestic environment, making every wall, chair, table, toy, and household decoration white, effectively serving as a giant white canvas. Over the course of the week, the school’s littlest artists were given thousands of coloured dot stickers and invited to collaborate in the transformation of the space, turning the room into a vibrantly mottled explosion of colour. Check out the photos and video clip to see the magic unfold!
A big highlight for Grades 4 to 8 (Primary and Secondary Years) were the paint pouring towers and canvases that they did. Students loved participating in this activity and were really excited to see the results — words don’t do this activity justice but the photos and students’ comments do.
Finally, throughout the week we had our own resident musicians (both staff and students) playing in various locations around the school. From a Ukulele and jazz workshop to a less formal open mic sharing at Friday lunch time for Secondary students.
Thank you, Claire! To find out more about the world class arts programme at GEMS World Academy (Singapore), visit their website to arrange a personal tour of their state-of-the-art campus!
GEMS World Academy (Singapore), 2 Yishun Street 42, Singapore 768039, Tel: (+65) 6808 7300, www.gwa.edu.sg