The Arts and Young Children – We Are All Born Creative!

Sir Ken Robinson said, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it.” The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and mathematics all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education.

So the primary goal of education should be to nurture human beings who have the capacity to create new things, new ideas, new methods, new theories, not simply to replicate what other generations have done before. Education is about growing people who are creative, inventive and discoverers.

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Children see so much that we as adults have a tendency to miss. It is very easy as parents and teachers to be “looking out for the teachable moment” or “thinking about all the things we need to do.” How often do we value just “looking with” children? As teachers, with the ever-increasing pressures to “ready children for school” and “teach them concepts and skills or how to read and write,” we so easily focus on who we want them to become with little recognition of the qualities and beauty they already possess and the capable and creative people they already are right now. Curtis and Carter (2000) remind us that if we are to overcome this tunnel vision we must start to notice and appreciate the remarkable point of view of a young child and the important work and contribution of childhood. Maybe now is the opportune time for all of us to take the time to stop, pause and listen to and observe some of the fundamental truths to life that our young children have to offer us when it come to becoming aware of the world around us. It is time for us to open our eyes to see the world more clearly.

With this in mind, teachers working with young children have an obligation to view children as the capable, competent, curious, and creative people that we know them to be. They are natural born researchers because they question what they see, that have wonderful ability to hypothesize solutions, predict outcomes, experiment, and reflect on their discoveries. Children are not passive, empty vessels waiting to be filled with information; rather they are self-motivated learners actively seeking to understand the complex world in which they live. They are intrinsically motivated to learn and can be trusted as partners in their own curriculum development alongside with the teachers. Learning is therefore an ongoing, flexible, open-ended process wherein children construct their own understanding. Teaching is not telling; teaching is guiding discovery.

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Children have an incredible desire to make sense of the world. The more we learn about child development, and the new implications of brain research, the more it is confirmed that childhood is a profoundly significant time of life. As we observe children pursuing an interest in their play and conversations, we have to recognize that these moments are the mortar and brick of a developing life cycle. Our lives are enriched and expanded when we pause to appreciate the experience of childhood.

This is where the importance of creative experiences for children in education become so essential. It is quite startling when you come to realise that the power of Art as a way of knowing and understanding has been repeatedly proven over the many centuries by a number of exemplars and approaches collected from many different cultures and historical contexts. We can all appreciate the prevalence of the arts in all cultures throughout the world, from the monumental and stunning beauty of Greek and Roman sculpture to the intricacies and spiritual magnitude of Aboriginal dot paintings, the integration of the Arts in world-renowned educational models such as those taught in Reggio Emilia Schools and those inclusive of the Reggio Emilia approach, the value placed upon Arts by educational philosophers such as John Dewey and the work in both Arts and science by practitioners such as Leonardo da Vinci.

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If we view the Arts as a fundamental element of what it is to be human, that learning in and through the Arts is a profound form of interacting with and communicating about the world by engaging with it’s questions, formulating ideas and expanding knowledge, only then can we fully appreciate learning as an intricate process of being, seeing, doing, knowing and becoming (McDougall, Bevan and Semper 2011). If we support this view of the Arts, we come to realize that Arts is of equal importance in human development, cultural expression and evolution and social documentation. We then can see and come to know there is high importance in promoting and advocating for Arts in and through teaching and learning with young children.

Aurora International Preschool of the Arts and Spring Hill Education is a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool with an ambition to expand Arts inclusive environments for children by advocating for the importance of the Arts for our youngest citizens. Aurora is the first preschool of its kind in Ho Chi Minh City and represents the fulfillment of a dream shared by a local mother and international educators who had long envisioned a high quality early years education and care environment for young children with Arts immersion as a fundamental philosophical curriculum approach. The preschool is exploring ways to build an Arts focus to nurture the understanding and appreciation of the Arts in the early years, to expand the Arts environment for children and to advocate for the importance of the Arts in Vietnamese early childhood contexts. Aurora also aims to build local and international partnerships with Art-based interest groups to create collaborative partnerships that advance the cause of arts inspired early childhood education in our community and further afield. We are all born creative!

Aurora International Preschool of The Arts

13 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien street, District 2

84 083 744 2991

www.aurorareggio.com

[email protected]

TEXT AND IMAGES PROVIDED BY AURORA

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