Forum Letter Replies

November 18, 2014

Providing Quality Arts Learning For All Students

We thank Ms Tan Seow Puay, Mrs Veronique Dawson and Mr Kanagavelu Paramasivam for their feedback on the art curriculum in primary schools.

MOE is committed to providing quality arts learning for all our students. It develops students’ ability to express ideas, their awareness of aesthetics and appreciation for beauty, culture and heritage. Over the years, we have stepped up our efforts and resources to enrich students’ learning and experience of art in primary schools.

In primary school art lessons, students are encouraged to make art using different media and materials appropriate to their level of development. These include art forms such as drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, ceramics and sculpture. Schools also have the resources to provide exposure in using digital media in art making. In the biennial Singapore Youth Festival Art Exhibition for primary schools, there is a rich variety of art works created individually and in groups that are exhibited by our students.

In recent years, we have stepped up the recruitment of art teachers and also run in-service training programmes for primary school teachers to enable them to specialise in teaching art. The Singapore Teachers Academy for the Arts set up in 2011 has provided dedicated professional development for art teachers. While we are seeing improvements in the learning of art across the schools, we need more individuals who are passionate in teaching art to our young to join us. We encourage those who are interested to join the education service. In the meantime, to complement the arts programmes, MOE has provided primary schools with funding to engage art practitioners to teach in schools under the Art and Music Instructors Scheme (AMIS). Interested art practitioners can apply to register with MOE under the Instructor Registration Scheme.

Ms Liew Wei Li
Director
Student Development Curriculum Division
Ministry of Education

Brush up art curriculum in primary schools (Ms Tan Seow Puay, ST Forum, 14/11, pA35)

I AGREE with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the arts and culture are an integral part of Singapore that we must continue to nurture (“Arts play key role in S’pore’s cultural shift: PM”; Nov 6).

We need to appreciate the finer things in life that uplift the spirit.

While the Government is hoping for a more vibrant arts scene in Singapore, some primary schools lack a comprehensive art curriculum.

Pupils are not given enough space for artistic expression as some teachers limit them to using fuss-free media so that there is no mess in class.

Other than oil pastels, there are so many art media worth exposing inquisitive young minds to. The irony is that some kindergarten pupils are given more exposure to different art media.

I have seen quite a number of children lose interest in art after entering primary school, because of a lack of emphasis on the subject, limited exposure, or teachers who are not passionate about art.

In some cases, art periods are used for teaching core subjects.

Is sending our children for art enrichment classes the only solution, or can the Education Ministry look into this matter?

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How pupil benefited from art lessons (Veronique Dawson, ST Forum, 18/11, pA22)

I AM grateful that art lessons at my son’s school, Montfort Junior, were not done away with in favour of “more important subjects” (“Brush up art curriculum in primary schools” by Ms Tan Seow Puay; last Friday).

My son worked with clay, plasticine and paints, and was free to express himself without fear of failure. He is proud of some of his works and displays them at home.

After his Primary School Leaving Examination, my son gave away all his books except for one - his art folio. I was pleasantly surprised to see that his art teacher, Mrs Amy Khoo, had taken pictures of him posing with his finished works. I had never seen that side of my son - he looked so pleased with himself and proud of what he had created.

What is the value of art? I am not sufficiently educated in this area to give an answer. But as a mother, I have seen that art has given my son self-esteem, pride in his work and joy.

I hope he has the chance to further express himself in art lessons in secondary school, and that these lessons be more about joy and self-expression than grades.

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Guide pupils to express themselves artistically (Kanagavelu Paramasivam, ST Forum Online, 18/11)

I THANK Ms Tan Seow Puay for sharing her concerns (“Brush up art curriculum in primary schools”; last Friday).

My daughter is in Primary 1 and enjoys art and crafts. However, she often asks my wife and me for help on drawing certain themes given by the teacher, who does not provide much guidance or written instruction.

My wife and I try to guess what the teacher wants before helping our daughter.

Even though my daughter often scores an A for art, the teacher seems oblivious to the fact that a lot of adult supervision has gone into her work. The teacher does not wonder why my daughter’s work seems messy when done in class but turns out wonderfully when done at home.

The only tools my daughter uses are coloured pencils and, once in a while, straws and ribbons - even though her textbook has a variety of activities that can be done with different art media.

All my daughter’s art is done as homework, and I wonder what is done in class during the two art periods.

My daughter is rather fortunate to have our help at home. But what about children who do not receive such parental support? I wonder how they complete their work when there are no written instructions or any examples to work with.

I hope art teachers, especially those teaching lower primary classes, will provide ample opportunities for pupils to express themselves artistically on their own. They may be surprised by some of the imaginative work produced by our young.