The AIRS program seeks to gather ongoing action research through a collaborative inquiry process on the impact of long-term engagement in the visual arts for academic achievement and social emotional learning in school. This research is essential for demonstrating the vital importance of the arts for child development and ensuring that education in the arts is protected and funded within public schools for the benefit of future generations. In addition, through our research we are continually gathering data to determine best practices for collaboration between artists and teachers in schools to maintain successful, flexible and innovative residencies that strengthen student learning and meet the core competency goals of the new BC curriculum.
“The Art and Discovery Studio demonstrates the potential for art activities to enhance children’s self-regulation by integrating social and emotional awareness with cognitive capacities such as patience and sustained attention.”
Dr. Jane Garland, Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry, UBC
Teachers from each school participating in the AIRS program come together four times during the year to share their observations and reflect on the impact of collaborating with a resident artist within a dedicated studio in their school on student learning. Each school develops its own inquiry question specific to their specific school context. For the 2012/20 school year, inquiries were developed under the overarching question: "How does sustained collaboration with a resident artist in an established studio impact student learning in relation to the curriculum, the core competencies and the FirstPeoples’ Principles of Learning?" Findings from the collaborative inquiry are documented and compiled into a year end final report that can be accessed below.
The 2019/20 inquiry was facilitated by Christine Giesbrecht, district mentor support teacher with presentations by Maggie Milne Martens, AIRS director and Indigenous teaching artists Shelley MacDonald and Candice Halls-Howcroft.
Unfortunately, our process was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, data was still gathered and documented by teachers over the course of the year through photos, shared observation, teacher and student written reflections and a post residency interview.
AIRS has had conducted a collaborative inquiry since 2017/2018 .
On February 19, 2020 teachers who have AIRS studios in their schools gathered as a part of the collaborative inquiry process. In this session, the teachers shared how students are engaging in the studio with the artists, and discussed how art making processes might intersect with Indigenous protocols and perspectives. The gathering was facilitated by indigenous artists and art educators, Shelley MacDonald and Candice Halls (pictured below left), who joined the discussion to share their knowledge and invite teachers into a deeper understanding of how to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing and the arts into their classrooms.
Please listen to the abridged audio recording of the session in which Shelly MacDonald and Candice Halls guide the group through a conversation about integrating both the arts and indigenous ways of knowing into the classroom.
Produced by Sadie Couture
While each studio invited a unique experience for students dependent on the vision of the artist and the kinds of material engagements students were offered, there was marked consistency in teacher observations of student learning across all sites. One of the key findings is the way in which the art making process powerfully builds student capacity in all of the core competency areas with particular intensity in the areas of creativity as well as positive personal and cultural identity, personal and social awareness and social responsibility. Risk-taking, independent problem solving, and openness to new ideas were all habits of mind that were observed and fostered in the studio. More importantly, the artmaking process has demonstrable impact on
student’s sense of self, building confidence in their own creative capacities and the value of their ideas. For many students who struggle in the classroom, the studio is a place for them to flourish and for their talents to be recognized and valued.
It is important to note that these learning outcomes were not pre- determined goals but were observed as being intrinsically nurtured through the art making process itself; that in the midst of the messy, chaotic, non-linear, haptic, and sometimes frustrating process of wrestling and transforming raw materials into significant form, that students are themselves transformed.
The 2018/2019 Collaborative Inquiry included talks with guests Dr. Jane Garland, Christine Giesbrecht and Dr. Sylvia Kind,
The 2017/2018 inquiry was based around the question “How does collaborating with a resident artist in an established studio impact student learning within the new curriculum and core competencies.”