Toronto Campus
21 Eddfield Avenue
Toronto, ON, M2N 2M5
(416) 250-0648

Richmond Hill Campus
11 Headdon Gate
Richmond Hill, ON, L4C 9W9
(905) 780-6565

The Arts

Experiences in the arts – dance, drama, media arts, music, and the visual arts – play a valuable role in the education of all students. Through participation in the arts, students can develop their creativity, learn about their own identity, and develop self-awareness, self-confidence, and a sense of well-being. Since artistic activities involve intense engagement, students experience a sense of wonder and joy when learning through the arts, which can motivate them to participate more fully in cultural life and in other educational opportunities.

The arts nourish the imagination and develop a sense of beauty, while providing unique ways for students to gain insights into the world around them. All of the arts communicate through complex symbols – verbal, visual, and aural – and help students understand aspects of life in a variety of ways. Students gain insights into the human condition through ongoing exposure to works of art – for example, they can imagine what it would be like to be in the same situation as a character in a play, an opera, or a painting, and try to understand that character’s point of view. They identify common values, both aesthetic and human, in various works of art and, in doing so, increase their understanding of others and learn that the arts can have a civilizing influence on society. In producing their own works, students communicate their insights while developing artistic skills and aesthetic judgement.

Through studying works of art from various cultures, students deepen their appreciation of diverse perspectives and develop the ability to approach others with openness and flexibility. Seeing the works of art produced by their classmates also helps them learn about, accept, and respect the identity of others and the differences among people. The openness that is fostered by study of the arts helps students to explore and appreciate the culture of diverse peoples in Canada, including First Nations and francophones. Students learn that people use the arts to record, celebrate, and pass on to future generations their personal and collective stories and the values and traditions that make us unique as Canadians.

Education in the arts involves students intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Learning through the arts therefore fosters integration of students’ cognitive, emotional, sensory, and motor capacities, and enables students with a wide variety of learning styles to increase their learning potential. For example, hands-on activities can challenge students to move from the concrete to the abstract, and the students learn that, while the arts can be enjoyable and fulfilling, they are also intellectually rigorous disciplines. Students also learn that artistic expression is a creative means of clarifying and restructuring personal experience.

In studying the arts, students learn about interconnections and commonalities among the arts disciplines, including common elements, principles, and other components. Dance and drama share techniques in preparation and presentation, and require interpretive and movement skills. Music, like dance, communicates through rhythm, phrase structure, and dynamic variation; also, both have classical, traditional, and contemporary compositional features. The visual arts, dance, and drama all share aspects of visual design, interpretation, and presentation, making connections among movement, space, texture, and environment. Media arts can incorporate and be interwoven through the other four disciplines to enhance, reinterpret, and explore new modes of artistic expression.

Links can also be made between the arts and other disciplines. For example, symmetry in musical structure can be related to mathematical principles. Mathematics skills can be applied to drafting a stage set to scale, or to budgeting an arts performance. Students taking a history course can attempt to bring an event in the past to life by reinterpreting it in their work in drama. Because all the arts reflect historical, social, and cultural contexts, students taking history, geography, and social sciences can gain insights into other cultures and periods through studying the arts of those cultures and times. Arts students can also apply their knowledge of historical and cultural contexts to enhance their understanding and appreciation of works of art.

High School (Grades 9-12)

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