The arts are organised expressions of ideas, feelings and experiences in images, in music, in language, in gesture and in movement. They provide for sensory, emotional, intellectual and creative enrichment and contribute to the child’s holistic development. Much of what is finest in society is developed through a variety of art forms which contribute to cultural ethos and to a sense of well-being.
Arts education enables the child to explore alternative ways of communicating with others. It encourages ideas that are personal and inventive and makes a vital contribution to the development of a range of intelligences. A purposeful arts education at primary level is life enhancing and is invaluable in stimulating creative thinking and in promoting capability and adaptability. It emphasises the creative process and so ensures that the child’s work is personal and has quality. Attempts at artistic expression are valued, self-esteem is enhanced, spontaneity and risk-taking are encouraged, and difference is celebrated. It is this affirming aspect of the creative arts that makes participation such a positive experience. Arts education is integral to primary education in helping to promote thinking, imagination and sensitivity, and arts activities may be a focus for social and cultural development and enjoyment in school.
Arts education encompasses a range of activities in the visual arts, in music, in drama, in dance and in literature. These activities and experiences help the child to make sense of the world; to question, to speculate and to find solutions; to deal with feelings and to respond to creative experience.
The arts education curriculum
The arts education curriculum provides for a balance between expression and the child’s need to experience and respond to the visual arts, to music and to drama. Dance is outlined within the physical education curriculum, and the contribution that literature makes to the emotional and imaginative development of the child is described within the language curricula.
The visual arts curriculum comprises interrelated activities in making art and in looking at and responding to art. It presents a range of activities in perceiving, exploring, responding to and appreciating the visual world. Perceiving involves looking with awareness and understanding of the visual elements and their interplay in the environment and in art works.
This awareness is fundamental to the development of visual expression and to the child’s personal response to creative experience. Making art involves two and three-dimensional work in a range of media.
Appreciating promotes understanding of the qualities inherent in art works and aesthetic enjoyment. In developing the programme, the expressive or making activities are balanced with opportunities to see and to make a personal response to visual art forms of different styles, periods and cultures. Regional craft traditions and their modern developments, as part of the national heritage, are among those art forms.
The music curriculum comprises listening and responding, performing and composing activities. Focused listening is emphasised, both for its sheer enjoyment potential and for its essential role in composing and performing. The child is encouraged to listen with attention to sounds in the environment and to become gradually aware of how sound is organised in music. Performance incorporates a balance of singing and instrumental playing of his/her own work and the work of others. Ways of using sound are explored in composing, both with the voice and with a widening range of musical instruments. In the development of the programme, performance is balanced with opportunities to hear and to make a personal response to music of different styles, periods and cultures, including the national repertoire in its varied national and regional forms. Interrelated activities for listening, performing and composing are suggested in the curriculum content.
The drama curriculum comprises interrelated activities which explore feelings, knowledge and ideas, leading to understanding. It explores themes and issues, creates a safe context in which to do so, and provides for opportunities to reflect on the insights gained in the process. It draws on the knowledge, interests and enthusiasm of the child. In drama, the child explores the motivations and the relationships between people that exist in a real, imagined or historical context, to help him/her understand the world. The child is encouraged to make decisions and to ta ke responsibility for those decisions within the safe contex t of the drama.
Dance provides the child with opportunities to organise and develop his/her natural enjoyment of expressive movement in dance form. Through dance, the child is encouraged to explore and experiment with a variety of body movements and to communicate a range of moods and feelings. The dance programme comprises activities in the exploration, Drama Curriculum creation and performance of dance and in developing understanding of dance forms.
Through literature, the child is guided to explore the world of the imagination and to discover how language brings it to life. Expressive language, both oral and written, is foste red for its enjoyment value and to help develop aesthetic awareness.
The aims of arts education are
- to enable the child to explore, clarify and express ideas, feelings and experiences through a range of arts activities
- to provide for aesthetic experiences and to develop aesthetic awareness in the visual arts, in music, in drama, in dance and in literature
- to develop the child’s awareness of, sensitivity to and enjoyment of visual, aural, tactile and spatial environments
- to enable the child to develop natural abilities and potential to acquire techniques, and to practise the skills necessary for creative expression and for joyful participation in different art forms
- to enable the child to see and to solve problems creatively through imaginative thinking and so encourage individuality and enterprise
- to value the child’s confidence and self-esteem through valuing self expression
- to foster a sense of excellence in and appreciation of the arts in local, regional, national and global contexts , both past and present
- to foster a critical appreciation of the arts for personal fulfilment and enjoyment.