Principles of Teaching the Arts in Education
“The arts will make a positive impact here in Liberia because it helps [students] to create something from the imagination. It helps them see colors, being blended, coming together, something come to life. So it will help in developing students. It will help in the development of Liberia. I believe that.”
-Khaliatu George, Tubman University student in Principles of Teaching the Arts in Education
May 2012 – July 2012
36 youth participants
Trained future teachers in the use of art in the classroom
Principles of Teaching the Arts in Education, an innovative practice course within the College of Education at the W.V.S. Tubman University in Harper, Liberia, was designed and facilitated in partnership with Colors of Connection under the leadership of Christina Mallie.
The Liberian educational system is devoid of the arts, employing a standard approach of rote memorization that engages a minimal number of cognitive processes. The goal of this collaborative project was to help student teachers understand how the arts can enhance the mental and physical health of individuals.
The project provided hands on techniques on ways to integrate the arts, specifically drawing and painting, into their teaching. The outcome was the creation of a mural that expressed the University’s vision by a group of fourteen enthusiastic students.
W.V.S. Tubman University is one of only two public universities in Liberia and the only one located in the remote southeast of the country. Tubman University provides an invaluable opportunity to earn a college degree to residents in the southeast, including former refugees, ex-combatants, postwar youth and an older generation. This specific course was created in response to our pilot project in Harper: Visions of Hope: Revitalizing a Refugee Community Through Art that highlighted the importance of the arts in education and coincides with revisions to the national curriculum that have been under discussion for several years. Under the current system of teaching in Liberia, students lack the opportunity to develop important skills such as critical thinking and problem solving that are useful both in education and developing life skills. In addition, UNICEF has recommended that the unique cultural and psychosocial needs of post-war youth needs to be addressed within the Liberian curriculum.
During the course students learned how the addition of the arts to the classroom can improve the mental, physical and psychological health of individuals, and create a more engaging and motivating environment in which to learn, thus improving academic performance. They learned techniques for integrating the arts into their teaching, and students were trained in basic drawing and painting and learned how to teach these skills to others. The students applied their knowledge by participating in the creation of a mural on the Tubman University campus.
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“Art can make a positive impact in Liberia in the sense that in creating an avenue to send students to school who have an interest in art will help, because artists are the ones who are very sensitive of looking into the problems of people.”
-Scearis Doe, Tubman University student in Principles of Teaching the Arts in Education