The Expressive Arts play a vital role in the development of creativity in the classroom as it aids in the development of divergent thinking (Dixon & Chalmers, 1990). It optimizes children’s creative potential by providing them with a medium such as visual art or drama with which they can express their emotions and thoughts. One of reasons the expressive arts is vital in the development of creativity is it cultivates and nurtures imagination (Jalongo, 1990). Imagination goes hand in hand with creativity, and as such elements of the Expressive Arts can encourage children to access and develop their imagination in a creative and effective manner.
It is important to first understand and value the expressive arts before one can teach it. In our first lecture, Diarmuid put a great emphasis on the significance of being able to teach the expressive arts in the most effective way possible. The key points that were reiterated by Diarmuid was to have a tolerance for ambiguity and a tolerance for mess. At first, I wasn’t sure what exactly he meant by this, but later during the visual arts input I gathered a general understanding of the term. He also emphasised that if there was anything to take from today’s lecture, it was to have an open mind and “go with the flow”.
This mindset was greatly tested later during the day in our first drama workshop with Andrew. In the drama lesson we were to act as villagers that had suffered an invasion from a dragon. Initially I found it hard to take it seriously and stay in character, but as the workshop went on and Andrew informed us how beneficial drama can be in a classroom as it allows children to release energy in a controlled environment and allows them to take on rolls that may be different to their actual personality. Andrew introduced multiple conventions that can be used when teaching a drama class. We explored thought tunnels when expressing our views on the dragon. A thought tunnel is when children line up in two lines parallel to each other. Someone representing the character of the dragon walks in the middle of the two lines and as they do so, children on the outside say one word that comes to their mind about the dragon. This was an effective convention to use at the start of the lesson as we were able to get our initial opinions out on the dragon, and many had the same negative opinion.
The second convention we explored was freeze frame, this is when a short scene is acted out and at an important part the characters freeze and hold their positions. In groups we had to act as if we had just seen the dragon and freeze our initial reactions. I found this incredibly difficult as I was unable to hold a genuine reaction. I found this activity uncomfortable as I felt exposed when told to hold my reaction to the dragon. I understand there may be children in a class that may feel like this and that it is not necessary to tell them off for not reacting in the same way as everyone else. It is important as a teacher to first create an environment that children feel safe and confident to express themselves, and some children may require a longer time to come to that point. It is the role of a teacher to encourage any form of participation.
The final convention that we explored in the drama workshop was hot seating. This is when, a character sits on a chair and the rest of the class can ask questions about the character. This is a great convention as it allows children to take lead and take the narrative in their own hands by answering the questions how they wish. It also allows the rest of the children to clarify aspects of the story they may be unclear with and therefore gain a better understanding. The hot seating in this case Andrew took the role of the dragon and as a class we were able to ask him an array of questions such as “why are you invading our village?”. This is good as you can get a different perspective of story, before we all had bad view of dragon as a threat but after hot setting a different angle was shown of a dragon that was just scared and changed our perception of the dragon from a threat to a victim. This was good as it showed the power of hot seating in drama.
In the visual art workshop, we viewed children’s art work ranging from early years to primary six. The art works consisted of self-portraits, landscapes, and abstract. Every art work conveying a different story in each painting. It was refreshing seeing an array of paintings, collages and sketchbook that children had created. It made me understand that art is not all about drawing, it is about creating, it is about inventing, some children’s art work was based solely on their imagination, as they put together a story that words couldn’t convey. These children’s art works screamed individuality, as no two art works even remotely resembled another. Each painting, each sketch, each doodle, it exposed an element of the creator’s personality, it expressed their ideas, something that is so unique and personal was laid out before me. It was interesting to note that the young children’s work was more daring and carefree, whereas the older children art work tended to come across as calculated and worked out. This conveyed to me that younger children were more confident within their ability to create, whereas older children developed a sense of self-doubt and shyness to create to their full potential. I understood this to be a role that a teacher could play in preventing, as teachers it is vital to appreciate and value a child’s work from an early age, even when their work may seem in-cohesive and invaluable. It is not my job as a teacher to make sense of a child’s scribbles, it is my job to encourage the nonsense scribbles and nurture the child’s confidence and enthusiasm to create. That is what matters. The worst thing I can do as a future teacher is dismiss a child’s art work and not pay attention to it. As this send the message that I do not value their work, which can have detrimental effects to a child’s confidence.
A drawing that caught my eye out of all the art works was that of a young child’s. Looking at the picture I don’t know what it is of, it is a series of random likes and shapes. However, the reason that this drawing drew me in because in the random and sporadic lines, it exudes a child’s enthusiasm. The heavy lines are a symbol of a child’s pure emotions that have not been filtered. The chaotic markings radiate with confidence and determination, all key qualities that a teacher should nurture and develop in a child. I know that if I had asked the child to explain what the pointing was about, I would have received the most exciting and interesting story that was as unique and creative as the child.
Dixon, G & Chalmers, F (1990) The Expressive Arts in Education, Childhood Education, 67:1. Available: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00094056.1990.10521568?needAccess=true&instName=University+of+the+West+of+Scotland&journalCode=uced20
Jalongo, M (1990) The Child’s Right to the Expressive Arts: Nurturing the Imagination as Well as the Intellect, Childhood Education Available: https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.1990.10522518