Re-telling Fairy Tales – SI
Preparing students in a vocational school for arts based practice in non-school settings
This example describes a post-16 vocational programme that gives students arts based learning experiences for working with children in a variety of non-school settings including kindergarten, hospitals and libraries.
The Music curriculum in general education in our schools (primary, secondary) is planned around the activities of singing/performing, creating and listening. Vocational education takes place in a ‘pre-school’ (for pupils aged 15-18), and music is one of the fundamental professional subjects in the school’s curriculum. It focuses on developing artistic as well as transferable skills.
Students in this school learn about the great importance of music for children’s musical development and how to develop children’s sensitivity for nonverbal communication. This example has been chosen because it is a characteristic, regular and compulsory activity for each student in the school in their 3rd year (aged 17). It reflects the following criteria:
· integration of music activities
· interdisciplinary approaches,
· opportunities to innovate,
· opportunities to learn independently and from each other, and
· becoming critical.
III. The Example
The practice is focused on a holistic approach to learning music, drama and dance. The educational focus is on students’ ability to be active, creative, independent, and motivated to communicate through working in an interdisciplinary way. The students should, as a final result, present their own devised work mainly in kindergartens but also in other institutions such as libraries or hospitals.
The work is led by regular teachers in the school, for music, literature, art and dance. The students are divided into groups which they choose themselves depending on their own interests, preferences, and knowledge.
The content of this example is based on two stories, chosen by students, from the Brothers Grimm: ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’, see video1 and video 2 . The groups devised the drama and music, and prepared the final pieces for performance.
Working on the task lasts four months (from September till December each year), with regular sessions, which included attention to student’s skill development and practice supported by teacher’s guidance. In performance, the students used different methods: singing, dancing, playing instruments, interactive approaches to encourage audience participation. Relaxed appearance on the stage and lively communication with the children in the audience showed their growth in confidence. An ability to critically reflect on their work was shown through tolerant discussions, experimenting and exploring possibilities, and aiming for better aesthetic solutions.
The focus of evaluation of student’s achievements was on: their ability to combine different fields of art, their communication skills, their ability to cooperate, the development of confidence, becoming critical and their positive attitude to performing.
Working on this project gives an opportunity to learn through practical musical engagement for our students, for their teachers and for the children. It is assessed as well established practice which challenges students and offers opportunities for personal development.
The work is evaluated through interviews with the students and results show that both students and teachers gain many experiences in flexibility of learning processes and making connections between different disciplines. Evaluations show that this practice is a very effective one and can be always developed to include new ideas, methods and media. There is also the possibility of groups in different schools collaborating or links made with teacher training students.
Frequent requests are made by educational institutions and other associations for the groups to perform (in the school period from December 2007 to April 2008 there were 68 performances at home and abroad /in Italy and in Austria for children of the Slovenian minority); and many awards give the evidence this practice can be considered successful.