In a move towards holistic education for Qatari students, the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has revealed plans to reintroduce visual arts into independent school curricula through an innovative programme that is educational, interactive and entertaining.
The new programme has been piloted in five schools for grade three and four students since September 2013. The pilot phase has included curriculum development, teacher training, and assessing the programme for constant modifications and improvements. The programme will be gradually expanded across all schools and all grades, by pilots in each phase. The SEC is continuously using input from the pilot phases to develop the expansion programme, with the aim of fully reintroducing the arts into schools over the coming years.
The new arts curriculum has been developed by SEC in partnership with key local cultural institutions including Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar University, Qatar Foundation, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. The entities together form a committee that has worked jointly on the syllabi, evaluation criteria, teacher training and expansion plans.
Local artist and committee member, Suad Al Salem said:
Studies have shown that art is crucial to enhancing critical thinking and cognitive skills that are necessary for students to excel in other subjects. In addition, artistic talent requires nurturing from an early age. We’ve therefore focused our efforts on developing a programme that is skills-driven, allowing students to understand experiences and express them through art.’
The committee structured the new art curriculum on three main strands: Visual Culture and Literacy; Aesthetic Appreciation and Criticism; and Artistic Expression and Creative Production. These strands reflect the wide range of artistic abilities, knowledge and mindsets that can be developed within an art classroom. According to the committee, by allowing students to express their opinion on a work of art, students can learn to appreciate art for more than just its aesthetic qualities.
The SEC’s partnership with QMA will ensure the new curriculum allows students to creatively engage with art and artistic spaces, and leverage the resources available in Qatar’s museums.
The classroom activities will be broken down to include three main phases that are planned sequentially. The first relates to knowledge acquisition. The second phase will seek to develop learners` critical thinking skills, where students will be provided with opportunities to critique works of art. In the final phase students will produce their own artwork.