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Lesson Plans

The Role of Creativity and Play in Italian Elementary Schools

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
JudaOrlandi, Marilyn (Marilyn.JudaOrlandi)
Mon, 30 Sep 1996 08:10:00 +0002

I am catching up on reading the back issues of the newsletter after having
been on vacation. The following subjects have caught my interest and
although it will probably be a lengthy contribution, I feel I must put my
two cents worth in.

For Henry: you said:
>I "did" (have done) the cognitive approach myself. It's over-rated, I
>think, as is creativity for that matter. We are already "creating" and
>producing more "stuff" than we can consume. New creations appear on
>market while the old creations remain viable. All we seem to be
>with all this creativity is using up materials faster. All this
> feel like Alice, running as fast as I can just to stay in place.

>By itself, creativity may be something of the equivalent of speed or
>heroin in the economic system.DH

Dear Henry, creativity is not limited to producing new objects, or "stuff"
as you seem to imply...creativity is used in all aspects of life to
enrich/enhance and often to find new solutions to old problems....creativity
involves all realms of activity.....creativity will be needed to find a
cure for cancer, or to eventually solve our environment problems;
creativity is necessary in all areas of research and it will take creative
leaders to solve the conflicts in Bosnia....To be a good teacher or a good
administrator in any discipline you need creativity.....The first cave man
that realized an object could be a tool was a creative person....and the
world has evolved and gone forward ever since thanks to the creative people
in every era...I could go on and on. Creativity is the most important
resource a people or a nation can have....and art education is or should be
the most effective tool for bringing out this quality in people.

I would like to share with you some excerpts from an official document of
the Program for the Primary (Elementary) Schools put out by the Italian
Ministry of Public Education and which is followed in all public schools
here in Italy: (I am translating this from Italian so it may sound awkward
in some parts)

It is notable that the very first sentence under objectives of the whole
educational system (not just art education) states:

"Creativity as an educational potentialDH
"The school system should contribute to develop the potential
creativity of the child." and follows with....
"...the necessity to not reduce creativity only to the expressive

It goes on to say that the elementary school system should "promote the
capacity for reflection and critical thought, at the same time encouraging
creativity, diversity and autonomy of judgment (discernment), based on
an adequate emotional and social equilibrium and a positive self image."

"The interpretation of the visual arts, music and theater/dance for
which the child has a strong affinity, can also support the learning of
more complex areas such as language arts and logic-mathematics."

The program then goes on to describe the objectives of each individual
subject to be taught.. Art education is called "Educazione allDRImmagine"
which would literally translate Image Education, ( interesting that image
is a root word of imagination) This also includes photography, use of
telecamera and videotape....anything that has to do with visual images.

There are several pages on objectives and content of this visual education,
the principle objective being:
"To strengthen creative expressiveness which is a common characteristic
of all individuals and can be taughtDH"
followed by:
"The forms of visual expression can be reinvented and manipulated by
the child and thereby offer a positive contribution towards the development
of creative thought"

Also notable is the reference to "play" and "games" as a didactic tool in
various disciplines not just visual education....
"learning through play" .."creativity should be stimulated....using
games and experimentationDH"

Someone wrote:
>Subject: is art play is that OK???
>Is there anything wrong in part or all of art being play?
>isn't it possible to learn through play?

So whatDRs wrong with play? I think there is a bit of the Puritan still left
in America...youDRre not supposed to let anybody know you are having fun!
(LetDRs make believe its work so they will let us get on with it.)

There is a man here in Rome who makes his living inventing games for the
public schools on a free-lance basis. The schools call him in and explain
what particular aspect of a subject they want to get across and he invents
games and has seminars for the kids that includes play through
games/art/drama/music etc to get across that particular subject matter. He
also holds seminars for learning through games/play in the local libraries.
He has great fun, the kids have great fun and at the same time learn in the

Question: Can you be creative without having fun? I donDRt think so. I
think creativity and fun go hand-in-hand. The crux of the matter
much does our society value creativity?

The fact that creativity is a number one priority in the Italian national
school system says a lot. Is it any wonder that the little country of
Italy, which is only as big as the state of Arizona, for more than 2,000
years have been leaders in architecture, painting, sculpture, and other fine
arts as well as producing navigators, scientists, inventors, designers,
Nobel prize winners....etc. (Please donDRt think this is nationalism or flag
waving,....I am not Italian, is just sheer admiration!)

I know however that only a small percentage of my elementary school kids
will go on to be artists when they grow up. My own personal goals when
teaching art are to:

1) pass on to the next generation the sheer joy of creating and expressing
themselves through art;
2) stimulate creativity which can then be carried over to other areas;
3) teach them to "see" the beauty that surrounds us...if beauty is in the
eyes of the beholder then I guess part of my job is to open their eyes...
4) enhance their self-confidence when they discover that they can draw and
create images that are aesthetically pleasing to them (I truly believe
anybody who can learn to write can also learn to draw... )
5) encourage them to take risks ....what is creativity, if not taking
risks. YouDRll never do anything new or exciting if you donDRt take risks...
6) appreciate their unique artistic history (I read somewhere that Italy
contains something around 60% of the worlds art treasures)
7) introduce them to artistic expressions of other cultures; (if they can
appreciate diversity in others they will then be able to accept it in
themselves and not turn out to be conformists)

I could go on and on but I wonDRt take up any more space...IDRve already been
too lengthy...

Marilyn Juda-Orlandi