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The challenge and value of learning and teaching in the arts

Deborah Fraser


Literacy and numeracy are high-stakes, and we do our students a disservice if we do not grow their capabilities in these areas. However, we also do them an immense disservice if we ignore their creative, imaginative, and artistic abilities. Not only do the arts contribute to student learning in other areas of the curriculum, they have innate benefits and teach us things that cannot be learnt from other disciplines. How we teach the arts is also significant. Too much emphasis on narrow skills perpetuates a dull, instrumental outcome and erodes quality. The arts require the purposeful teaching used in effective pedagogy with attention to the scaffolding of skills, exploratory play, idea development, honing of precision, and imaginative expression. The arts also offer inclusive contexts for engaging all students given the embodied ways of knowing privileged in the arts. Moreover, the arts readily engage the wider school community and are enriched by community involvement. The contribution of the arts to our students places beauty, imagination, and creativity at the centre of education. 

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