& EVENTS


What We Teach & How Our Students Learn

Claire Rimmer, Arts Subject Leader May 10, 2019
What We Teach & How Our Students Learn

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” Aristotle

You will have often seen and heard this quote used, and it can be applied to many situations, from looking at who our parents are and then who we become as individuals, to the focus for this article - what we teach and how our students learn, develop and create.

If you draw two straight lines next to each other how many lines do you have? Well, you have the two you draw, and then you have a third line that you’ve created with negative space in the middle. 1 + 1 = 3.

By doing what we’ve been asked to do plus adding something extra such as applying our ATL skills we expand our potential allowing us to create and learn something new. This discussion stems from this TED talk - "Steal like an artist" by Austin Kleon.

In the Arts we place great value on the process we go through and value is added by the engagement the students demonstrate, the independence they apply and the strategies they implement to achieve results. Every lesson and task is an opportunity to grow as an artist and individual. By being critical thinkers students can look at alternative solutions to problems, by being reflective they can learn from mistakes, good communication allows them to give and receive feedback effectively and self-management ensures work is completed on time. The list goes on and the goal is simple.

Every child has potential and it’s their willingness to try and their commitment to things (that added extra effort) that makes the difference in the process and in turn the product. In the arts we will struggle, we will succeed, we will be confident and we will be nervous, we will fail and we will triumph, we will draw blanks and we will have amazing ideas, we will plan and execute with precision and we will be surprised by our happy accidents and we will always, ALWAYS learn from everything we do. To do this students need to be engaged, build knowledge and be open to possibilities.

Evidence of students’ efforts within the arts can clearly be seen on a day to day basis within the classes, are often highlighted with displays around the school and various performances. Such examples include:


Hopefully, many of you will have seen these colourful paintings by our wonderful Grade 1's on display in the main lobby. The works were inspired by the paintings of Canadian artist Ted Harrison, a celebrated artist, teacher and illustrator of children’s books. Students were inspired by the simple, rhythmic shapes and lines of Harrison’s works to create their own landscape. They appreciated Harrison’s love of colour and were fascinated by the process of colour mixing, sharing their discoveries with friends and enthusiastically discussing how they made particular colours. Students used the challenging medium of acrylic paint with considerable care and control. We are very proud of these beautiful artworks - and even more proud of the diligence and perseverance displayed by our young students in completing such a challenging project.


Recently nine students from Grade 10 completed their coursework (practical) component of the IGCSE Drama certificate. Each student had to prepare and perform in two group pieces (one original devised and one extract from a published play) and one solo piece (monologue). The students worked long hours and showed true dedication and passion to achieve the highest standard of performance. They were also supported by our DP (Grade 11) Theatre Arts students through technical support and mentoring.  In an outstanding conclusion, these nine students achieved five ‘A’ grades and four ‘B’ grades in total which is a very impressive result. Congratulations to the IGCSE Drama group who should be very proud of their achievements and best of luck to them as they write the written exam component of the course on Friday, 10 May 2019.


Dance Club is a student-started, student-led initiative which has been running for most of the year and this group of students has truly shown commitment, passion and courage in their endeavour. The club was originally started by artist, choreographer and super talented dancer Erica Dofitas (Grade 12) who lead and inspire other students to join in. Earlier this year they performed at The Kerala Concert and at two school assemblies. Erica has now moved on to focus on her final DP exams (Good Luck Erica!) and has left the dance club to continue with its original members taking the lead. They have recently welcomed an influx of new members and have prepared a dance routine (choreographed by Erica) for the Family Fun Day on Saturday, 11 May 2016. They will be performing on the main stage at 12:30.


GEMS Voices recently performed in the concluding celebration of Book Week. They were invited by the organiser to lead the Primary and Early years students in a sing-along of an adaptation of “I Got a Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas, aptly titled “Gotta Keep Reading”. They performed with high energy, clever lyrics and dance moves (and very much enjoyed the donuts received as thanks afterwards) and our impressive band of three talented musicians (Dhafin, Joao and Joshua from Grade 10)  captivated the audience as usual. GEMS Voices inspired our younger students to join GEMS Voices when they get to Secondary School, served their school community while building school spirit and reminded us all to appreciate the gift of reading.


Next up, GEMS Voices will be performing at The Family Fun Day on Saturday, 11 May 2019 on the main stage at 1:30 pm.


 The Music Department presented a Solo & Chamber concert some time ago on April 2. 35 students across the PY and SY divisions presented a fine evening of classical music in front of an appreciative audience. The programming was diverse and showcased the abilities and range of our fine musicians. Over the years the Solo & Chamber concerts have proven to be an important outlet for classical music at GEMS and this performance perfectly demonstrated the musical growth shown by our talented performers.



This week the Arts Team spoke to all Grade 8 students about the changes in the Arts moving from Grade 8 to 9. A copy of the presentation can be viewed HERE. Students have the opportunity to choose between Art, Music, Drama. Instead of having 2 classes of each Arts subject within the seven days, students will focus on only one Arts subject five times in a seven-day rotation. This is a two-year course and students should focus on choosing which 'subject' is right for them, regardless of peers or teachers. This may be the last experience of the arts students have before other subjects become a priority and career choices take shape or it may be the stepping stone to a greater passion moving towards a ‘deeper dive’ into one of the DP Arts and in turn pursuing a specialised career in the Arts.


Claire Rimmer
Arts Subject Leader