[article for ANZA Singapore, 18-01-23]
When hearing the word ‘enrichment’ in a school context, most picture students taking part in sport, the arts and the myriad other extracurricular activities that are on offer in the best institutions. Enrichment is often perceived as something that happens outside of the classroom. However, this perception can have two damaging effects on school life. First, it can relegate sport and the arts to mere co-curricular activities that are there to give students an escape from their studies. They become add-ons, rather than academic disciplines in their own right, which they absolutely should be. Second, it can lead to a culture in which academic learning is confined to the classroom, and to timetabled lessons, which it absolutely should not be.
It is important to consider how schools enrich their students academically, providing the opportunity and encouragement to explore their interests beyond the classroom. This means creating provisions that are beyond anything found in the taught curriculum, not simply extending what is taught in the classroom. The benefits of such experiences are vital for students’ authentic discovery of their own academic passions.
More sophisticated and independent learning opportunities
What does academic enrichment look like in schools? When done well, the provisions aren’t necessarily extra-curricular; they are part of the school day. Lectures, seminars, accredited online courses and public speaking opportunities create a mature learning experience more often found in universities. If students leave a session with more questions than they arrived with, the level of challenge was probably pitched at the perfect level to inspire curiosity. Intellectual curiosity, which comes so naturally to younger children, often fades as they get older and focus their minds on textbooks and exams. Academic enrichment allows us to reignite it, and foster independent thought in a way that rote learning never could.
Learning beyond the curriculum
By offering students the option to study content beyond the curriculum, academic interests are discovered and encouraged. This is excellent preparation for university course selection and application preparation. Sometimes this learning can be applied to real world situations through service or action research, but very often the topic is selected simply because it fascinates the specialist delivering the session. Teachers demonstrating their own authentic subject passion is highly influential on students’ learning and engagement.
Low stakes lead to high returns
Learning experiences without exams, assessments or even written outcomes, remove anxiety and encourage more risk-taking in the classroom. Students find their voices in a safe academic setting, increasing esteem which is in turn transferred to their curriculum-based learning. Increased proficiency in collaboration, articulate conversation and public speaking are clearly evident in those participating in academic enrichment activities.
In studying beyond the taught curriculum, students obtain a greater comprehension of the context of what is being learnt. Through the gained communication skills, students have the tools to more actively participate in their learning. Ultimately, academic enrichment fosters an authentic love of learning which goes hand in hand with greater academic success.
At NLCS (Singapore) our academic enrichment programme provides a vast range of scholarly experiences, clubs, and societies for all students. Through both teacher and student-led programs, students turn areas of interest into genuine areas of expertise.
Throughout Term 2, Grade 9 students responded to the theme of “Layers,” both in technique (layering materials/processes) and conceptually (layers of emotion, in society, construction, growth). Students attempted to reinvent a typically traditional subject matter through the idea of layering and making personal connections.
Students explored the following Inquiry Statement through research, analysis, practical experimentation, idea generation and the final realisation of their intentions...
Mixed-media breaks the boundaries of art disciplines, as art can be made of anything or any combination of things.
As an initial starting point, students researched and considered how mixed-media has changed over time and how the Cubists encouraged a shift in attitude towards such artworks. Looking more closely at the work of Sigmar Polke, students then experimented with several wet-media techniques to recreate the layered aesthetic of Polke’s work.
Through these experimental processes, students were able to develop their own meanings and messages in response to the theme. The range of concepts was vast. From the layers of apparent liberty in western cultures, to the layers one's own emotions and character. Or the layers of the subconscious blurring memories and dreams. And the layers and knock-on effects of the destruction of our natural environment.
The resulting artworks fully realise the students sophisticated and imaginative intentions. Well done, Grade 9 artists!
Written by Solaia Suherman, Grade 9, for the Buss Brief Newsletter
The Her Art society is an exploration of the lives, stylistic choices, beliefs, values, and concepts of the great female artists of yesterday and today — through which we can use their art as a window to learn, discover, and grow.
“I’ve always wanted to learn more about women artists, often finding myself pondering upon the questions --
Why does Yayoi Kusama paint polka dots? What was Meret Oppenheim trying to say when she covered a teacup in a Chinese gazelle’s fur? How did Frida Kahlo weave symbolism into her work? What was the place of female artists in society: past and present?
Through this society, we discuss and even answer questions like these. To embark on an exploration of female artists and their ideas will not only lend us the reflection of the world, but also the discovery of our own place in it.
Ultimately, great art is a reflection of humanity. It captures its time and evokes their values. It grants us an understanding of the ever-changing world in which we’re surrounded by.
Appreciating art isn’t merely a matter of aesthetic — it is the unveiling of the underlying message conveyed through it.
So, I hope that others, as well as myself, can hold on to these words whilst we embark on this exploration of female artists. After all, art always goes back to humanity.”
During the Chinese New Year break, the Her Art society set out on a visit to OTA Fine Arts, (Gilman Barracks), to view an exhibition by the sensational Yayoi Kusama. The artist showcased 15 of her monochrome paintings from her My Eternal Soul series (2019-2020), as well as CLOUDS (2019), a sculpture installation of mirror-finished stainless-steel forms. Given that we have been learning about Kusama, her life, and her work, the exhibition was a perfect opportunity to see some of what we have been discussing in the flesh. Indeed, we had a great amount of fun talking, looking, pondering, and learning during the visit. Kusama’s work evoked beauty in pattern and repetition that inspired us all — truly, a memorable afternoon spent.
Showing amazing sensitivity and maturity, Grade 8 have investigated the Art genre Vanitas- still-life artworks in which symbolic objects encourage the viewer to consider their own mortality. As they tackled the provocative and emotive theme of our inevitability, they made insightful links to their studies in English and History. Recognising the similarities between Vanitas, War Poetry and Propaganda, the students made connections using symbolism through imagery and the actual media and techniques used...
Vanitas and War poetry both revolve around the concepts of mortality and the inevitability of death. In addition to this, Vanitas uses symbolism to represent concepts and ideas that would normally be much more difficult to show. War poetry uses symbolism as a way of dehumanising the soldiers, and creating the illusion that they are objects, that of which can be broken.
The obvious answer (to the question of differences) is that one of them, Vanitas, is an illustration, which is interpreted via sight, and you formulate ideas off the basis of a picture, whereas war poetry is a written piece of work, where ideas are formed off the back of words. Not only this, but Vanitas also focuses only on symbolism, and more specifically, death; meanwhile, War poetry is all about war, where death is merely a subtopic under this vast heading.
(The link between the poem, Manhunt and the imagery of the ribcage used...) The poem Manhunt is about the hide and seek-like game two men play in war, with the punishment for being found being death. The poem describes how the bullet penetrates the man's chest, and talks about how it destroys his body from the inside.
Propaganda in the First world war was based heavily on truth, or lack thereof. Governments would alter documents, and give the public essentially, what they wanted to hear. This meant that they were only interested in what the public received. The cutting of paper to exclude parts of the poem is a visual metaphor of the government's actions, representing the exclusion of truth.
Paper-cutting is when you make patterns in paper by cutting parts of it out. This is similar to propaganda as in propaganda you are lying to the people and hiding the truth. By paper-cutting you are cutting out parts of the poem and the reader can only see some parts of it. The partial truth, just like propaganda.
The general criticism and condescending tone of the poem, blaming women almost completely for soldiers suffering, the writer, Siegfried Sassoon‘s brain must be dead set on his idea and opinion, his brain thinks differently and blames different things that are now, in this day and age, morally wrong, another example of the evolution of morals and how our brains are wired to think.
(How propaganda influenced the media and technique used...) The holes in their “truths” aka the blatant lies and stuff they ignore to fit the shape of what their story should look like. Cutting holes represents the holes and gaps in their ways of thinking and the imperfections of what they’re saying.
To encourage virtual visitors into online Art Galleries, the Getty Museum created the #gettymusuemchallenge in which people recreate some of their favourite artworks. DCSL students from Years 2 to 12 accepted this challenge and the results are fantastic!
Over the last two weeks, the Senior School students have been responding to the Tate Gallery’s insta-stories entitled, “A Home can be a World”. Students recorded an area or aspect of their own homes in whichever medium they chose, to represent what their home has been to them during these strange times. The video captures a snapshot of some of their responses…
The Year 13s should have held their end of course Visual Arts exhibition over the last two weeks. Of course, we have had to cancel the show and the students have felt a real sense of anti-climax as their IB Art journey is now over.
So, here is a different kind of exhibition for us to reflect on their Visual Arts journey and give Year 13 the sense of achievement and celebration that they so deserve!! The video is only a 1:45 snapshot, but it means a lot to them to know that they have been seen and heard!