Middle School Stage One - Years 6 & 7 | Stage Two - Years 8 & 9
VISUAL ARTS IN THE CURRICULUM
The Visual Arts programme at The Essington School Darwin is exciting and varied and incorporates a variety of learning approaches to cater for the differing needs of each student.
Children have a natural inclination to draw. Through the sustained contemplative practice of picture making the students at The Essington School Darwin are successfully learning to value their own indiosyncratic response to the world. They are developing skills and techniques with which to communicate effectively, and appreciate aesthetic values and differences in multi-cultural Darwin.
The Visual Arts programme, in conjunction with other curriculum areas:
- assists the growth of self-esteem and self expression
- assists with cognitive development
- develops an understanding and appreciation of the visual arts
- provides opportunities for creativity
- provides for enjoyment and relaxation
- enhances other curriculum areas
Our major goal in the Visual Arts is the development of the individual student’s skill, sensitivity and the individual student’s skill, sensitivity and imagination in Art.
Classroom Visual Art with a specialist teacher is part of the primary and secondary curriculum. Outside visiting Visual Arts specialist are engaged from time to time. Each year level from Transition to Year 7 complete Art classes. Students from Years 8 to 10 are able to complete Art classes as part of their Electives program. Students have an opportunity to work in a number of areas including: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, collage, design and art appreciation. The art concepts of line, colour, shape, pattern, texture and tone may also be exposed.
Themes of study are drawn from different areas of interest to students including themselves, their class teacher or their specialist art teacher. Themes include myself, my family, the school environment, the Northern Territory environment, the man-made and natural world, historical, environmental or
art-based. Where appropriate, the current topic of research in the classroom will be picked up and explored in the art classroom to establish a more integrated approach to learning. There are opportunities to work individually, in pairs and in groups. The process of making art is valued as well as the finished product.
VISUAL ARTS CENTRE
In 2006 the School established a separate, specialist Visual Arts Centre. This Centre, with its specially
designed classroom, has a raised roof that allows a great deal of natural light into the room. On the front of the building is a large paved area for outside art work and projects. It is planned to add other facilities to the adjacent area to progressively extend the building and programs offered. The Centre allows for the display of student art. Notice boards around the School are also used to show student work and these are regularly updated. The gardens outside the Visual Arts Centre are used to display student sculpture from time to time.
Middle School students have the opportunity to complete programs off the school site in specialist craft facilities and also at nearby schools. They also regularly visit galleries or places of special interest. This is intended to expose students to a variety of artists’ work, both past and present, traditional and non-traditional and indigenous. Visiting artists are encouraged to come to the School to talk with students about their work. This including professional artists who illustrate children’s books.
Students’ creative ability is stimulated and nurtured by the creative arts that expose them to a wide range of media including drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
SCIENCE PROGRAMS AT ESSINGTON
Science Centre – Designed For Hands On Learning
The idea for the School’s innovative Science Centre came from a similar facility and approach adopted at the School’s sister school, Tamagawa University School in Tokyo. The flexible, large laboratory learning space and nearby secure research areas allows students to work as scientists do whilst learning about scientific issues relevant to the Darwin environment. Scientists at Charles Darwin University and Crocodylus Park provide advice to the School on its various aquaculture and marine study programs.
Beyond the focus on studying animals in the local marine and estuary environment, students also hatch chicken eggs (on the computerized egg incubator) and study a small children’s python.
The School’s accelerated Middle School Science education program, now in its tenth year, has seen the School develop a Science Centre with attached Aquaculture Centre for the studying of red claw, barramundi, pig nosed turtles and crocodiles.
Extending The Science Curriculum
Over the nine years of the development of its Science extension program, Middle School students from Years 6 to 9 have regularly accessed Charles Darwin University’s undergraduate Science Laboratories to complete advanced science practical classes.
Students have also completed an annual study tour to visit different reef systems on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns and Port Douglas. At a time when the Science curriculum and outcomes in Australian schools are increasingly coming under the spotlight at national level, Essington’s success has been extending its Science curriculum and focusing on a hands-on Science learning experience.
The School’s results in a national testing program in 2006, conducted in Science for Year 6 students across Australia, showed Essington School Year 6 students topped these national Science Literacy tests and out performed most other schools.
“The inspiration for the Essington Science program is based on providing an international science curriculum focus and a special emphasis on the ‘new’ sciences, the Science areas our children are most likely to be working in”, said David Cannon, Principal.
Turtle Study Excursions
Essington’s hands-on Science learning experience takes students out of the classroom to a sand island outside Darwin Harbour. This area is a major turtle nesting areas and students study the nesting habits of the largeflat backed turtle between April and September each year.
This exciting hands-on, Science experience has seen Essington students observing and studying the nesting behaviour of these turtles under the guidance of Charles Darwin University’s turtle expert, Dr. Mick Guinea. With the assistance of local tourist cruise boat, the Snubfin, students travel to sand islands outside Darwin harbour for an evening of turtle spotting, and to study nesting behaviour. A bonus is the experience of seeing the beach come alive with hatching baby turtles making their way to the sea.
Coast Care Field Studies
Year 8 and 9 students regularly complete field work on the local Darwin marine environment, and work with organizations such as Coast Care.
What is Middle Schooling all about?
Middle Schools began to develop in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s in response to the disengagement of students in the early junior high school years. This was showing up in students leaving school early, low attendance rates, and a decline in learning outcomes in the early secondary years of education when compared to outcomes achieved in the primary years.
Middle school advocates formulated their visions in terms of human growth and development rather than on content in subject areas. Research indicated the dramatic changes of puberty affected children between the ages of 10 and 14 years of education. There was a growing awareness that in the middle years of schooling we needed to provide more opportunities to learn, grow and develop in ways that acknowledge and respect this phase of their lives.
The Middle School was to offer a balanced, comprehensive, and success-oriented curriculum. It was to be a sensitive, caring, supportive learning environment that would assist students to make the transition from late childhood to adolescence. It was intended to bridge the gap between the self-contained structure of primary schools and the subject department structure of secondary schools.
In essence the development of Middle Schools was a response to the realization that we needed a different way of organizing our schools and curriculum, and teaching for students in the preadolescent years. What worked for primary students and upper secondary students was not effective for this group of students at this stage of their developmental journey. They needed something different.
Middle School seeks to:
- provide unique experiences for students in transition between childhood and adolescence
- helps students become proficient in the basic skills
- helps students develop fundamental thinking processes which foster independent learning
- helps meet the special physical, social, emotional, and character needs of preadolescent students
Profiling the Middle School Student
A recent article in a professional curriculum journal painted the following profile of middle school students in the editorial titled, “Which Way, the Middle?”:
“They are consumers, a marketers’ target group that influences the purchase of everything from clothes to MP3 players to cell phones.
They are the multitaskers exposed to six and one half hours of media each day, often simultaneously watching TV, listening to music, playing computer games, instant messaging, and even doing homework.
They are worriers, concerned about their grades, their appearance, problems at home, and how to fit in with friends – not to mention the future of their world.