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Blog: Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Bustling Christmas Time in ASIA

We are in one of the busiest seasons at the Sumas Mountain campus of the Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts. Christmas season is coming and with it, our annual Christmas performance. To an unknowing eye, things might look a little chaotic, but this is what an authentic arts process looks like before it comes together in a show. As one of our staff members said: Chaos is messy, but creativity lives on the edge of chaos. As our audiences enjoy the performances of students Grades 6 to 12, they see creativity, talent, and a balance of static and live performances. What is on stage reflects our students at their best.

What they don’t see is the hard work, innumerable failures that spur our students to learn from their mistakes and try again. The hours of monitored practice, self-reflection and class discussions that reflect the engagement and process of learning behind the product on stage. Audiences don’t see the careful planning and thoughtful program development by staff and students as they work in cooperation.They miss the student on the stage who might have refused to perform because of anxiety, but didn’t because of the careful nurturing of the child and developing successful events in the process of practicing that allowed that child to take the stage.They miss the fact that a light was not working an hour before the show which prompted a newly trained tech crew student to say “I’ll figure it out”, and solve the problem. They don’t see that one of our teachers spent evenings at the school learning the lighting program alongside students, so that together they would have the skills needed highlight special scenes. Nor that a musician lost his music moments before the show, and that another shared his music with him.

The learning process is much like putting on a show. The chaotic moments can look like “not knowing”. We begin with students in chaos, and teachers and their peers guide them through discussion, monitored practice, successes and failures, and “try agains”. The teachers monitor and nurture each child, trying to find a road that weaves competencies, content and experiences through arts integration in a way that allows the child to learn the concept or the skill. Then there is the final performance, the demonstration of learning, and we celebrate what the child has learned.

We see an integrated arts education benefiting all students and our community. By crossing curricular connections and developing social, emotional, artistic and academic capital alongside one another, our students are learning to connect with their culture, their history, and the Canadian and global community. Integrating the arts with all subject areas stimulates student imagination and creativity, and encourages them to be innovative in their approaches to learning. At ASIA Sumas we are committed to developing artistic habits of mind: exploring and creating, reasoning and reflecting, communicating and documenting, and connecting and expanding. Our students experience their learning.  Our greatest hope is that the sum of these experiences empower our students to speak out against injustice using their arts as both their critical lens and the platform from which they can express and voice their opinions.

Principal, ASIA Sumas Mountain