Rule of the Playground
By Brad Burns, Sherryl Celland, Greg Dowler-Coltman, Tami Dowler-Coltman, Lindsay Ingram, and Kylie Weatherall
- The Victoria school of the arts is a place that holds the arts at the heart of learning. This K to 12 public school, recently celebrating over one hundred years in existence, is situated more blocks north of the downtown core of Edmonton, Alberta. At Victoria, students learn in the arts, about the arts, and through the arts.
The international Baccalaureate Programme aligns the arts and academics within a framework of inquiry across all grades. Students demonstrate a commitment to their complete learning journey and are encouraged to develop the ability, confidence, and imaginative capacity to pursue their dreams and contribute to their community both locally and globally.
The elementary student classroom experience is enriched through art,dance,drama and music. Hands-on experiences, integrated projects, and performance opportunities, often led by professional guests, allow students to develop a sense of self as artist and learner.
Some Victoria school graduates elect to pursue the arts as adults on a professional or recreational level; however all Victoria school graduates enter adulthood with courage and compassion, having spent their time in school of the playground.
These rules : play fair, play with heart, play with everyone, play like there is no time limit, and leave the playground as you found it-ready for the next group of players to begin again.
- Using the arts as part of one's 'practice' should be as natural as breathing. Music, art, drama,dance, and literary arts makes the teaching and learning process three dimensional, more real, and thereby more meaningful by Sherrl Clelland, arts teacher
In the ideal ,arts programming at Victoria school ensures cross-curricular integration, eliminating the fragmentation of a separate subject approach. This approach builds life skill competencies without regard to subject matter. Knowledge is not acquired as a collection of facts but within a context created by a theme or story, and as such ensures greater intensity of student ownership in the learning experience.
The opportunity for cross-divisional integrations openly exist and depend on the creative capacity of the teachers to imagine the possibilities before drawing upon the resources available to make an idea sprout.
Art at the Centre
" I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys to learning by Plato
- As the writers worked with their teacher supervisors and alongside the visual artist, they rigorously engaged in the revision process, opening themselves up more and more to taking, receiving, and implementation of teacher and peer feedback as they became ever more aware of what it means to be a professional writer and artist.
-These are snapshots of the experience that people attending the Art Gallery of Alberta would have had on a Sunday in December when Victoria's high school Dance and Acting students joined forces with the gallery in a day-long performance event titled The space Between.
The Space Between-a concept that spoke to the thematic nature of the gallery's current exhibitions and the realities of the spaces that lie between visual artist and viewer, performer and audience, and student and professional artist. The intention was that the resulting work, both formal and informal, would bring audience and performers closer to the process of exploration making was a deep desire to come to a clearer understanding about the world around us and our place in it.
In the development of the work, students came to more fully appreciate the notion of inspiration, but not without taking a huge personal and collective leap of faith.
note: The Victoria School was a vocational school with low enrollment in 1985. At this time, the principal, Bob Maskell, converted the school into an art orientated school and actively hired professional artists. Twenty-five years later, the school has become one of the best arts schools in North America.
Ever since Victoria school embraced the arts twenty-five years ago. Families,educators, and interested community members have toured the halls, classrooms, and studios of the school. Most are curious about the program. The support and resources, the student body, and the challenges both artistic and academic, but hands down the single most common refrain,, so much so that it might do well to inscribe it on the walls, is: Where was this school when I was a kid?
Myungja Anna Koh