Art is a valued and integrated component of the educational environment at The Discovery School and contributes to the well-rounded development of its students. Students are introduced to art materials, artists and creative "art making" in their Toddler and Primary classrooms where creative opportunities are often integrated into their academic and practical learning activities and experiences. Additionally, all Kindergarten through 6th grade students are involved in weekly art classes (50 minutes) with an art enrichment teacher in a dedicated art room.
The approach is non-competitive and nurtures the artistic spirit of each child, respecting each child as an artist and an individual, and encouraging each artist to discover his/her unique creative voice. This philosophy also includes an expectation that all children, with guidance and encouragement, will try to do their best work by becoming invested in the process and participating fully. Every child benefits from both experiencing the creative process and, secondarily, achieving success through completion of a product or reaching a personal goal. This naturally leads to a sense of accomplishment and greater self-confidence while increasing the student's willingness to take creative risks in the future.
At all grade levels, art offers students an opportunity for self-expression. Through art, the students can see that there are many perspectives and ways to experience and interpret the world. Art demonstrates that there can be multiple solutions to a problem and more than one answer to a question. Students are encouraged to discuss the art process: how art makes us feel and what we learn from the experience. Students practice how to communicate ideas to others. This process fosters increased self-awareness and builds communication skills. This naturally includes developing an art vocabulary.
Learning something new in art often requires listening skills and the ability to follow directions, but it also requires flexibility and a willingness to risk and accept unanticipated circumstances and situations, utilizing problem solving skills and adapting to changes. The Discovery School artists celebrate their "happy accidents." Mistakes are not viewed as failures, but rather as opportunities to learn something new, frequently leading to new discoveries and exciting outcomes. Art always involves making choices and developing the capacity for creative problem solving. All students are encouraged to recycle and to find creative ways to repurpose discarded materials, discovering that it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to enjoy making art. At the same time, by reducing waste, students honor and celebrate our Earth. They frequently incorporate natural and found materials in their creations, and their ideas are often inspired by nature.
Students also learn the value of revision, how to receive and offer constructive critique and assistance. They learn to be specific, kind and supportive in providing feedback to others. They are encouraged to strive for improved craftsmanship and, as a result, reap the rewards of persistence and patience. All students create an art portfolio to keep practice work and revisions, file information and handouts, and record ideas. Students are encouraged to identify and date their work to provide a structure for tracking progress and a means for reflection on the art process and their personal experience.
Art concepts, genres and activities are usually presented in conjunction with examining the work of artists from around the globe (past and present), providing a historical and cultural context. The work of these artists represents a wide variety of styles and incorporates a broad selection of media, with processes that include drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, and sculpture. The students learn to recognize similarities and differences between different genres of art. This examination may illuminate a particular concept or approach to art making. It helps students to understand how artists have used symbols and visual representations through time and across cultures. Students learn how artists today (represented in a wide variety of careers) influence everyday life and how the application of art can impact the quality of life. They can begin to consider opportunities for applying art in a career or as an ongoing activity and enrichment in their lives.
The goal of the Art Program is to create an awareness of the far-reaching potential of art through Art Enrichment and Hands-on experience (art making). The approach is to integrate the students' art room experiences with what they are studying through the transdisciplinary learning of the IB units of study in the classroom: math, creative writing, social studies, science, and foreign languages. Thus, their art experience can enhance their class work and their class work can enhance their art, helping to inform and facilitate future choices and increase skills in problem-solving, creative thinking, effectively managing frustration and meeting new challenges. This integrated approach makes learning about art more practical, meaningful and exciting.