By Tamjid Alkohali
The talent of any creator in this world grows since childhood. The school is the first place where student’s talent is discovered and affected in a way that may lead to it being cultivated or disappearing.
Omar Bin Abdul Aziz school has an art teacher named Somia al-Maori who drew a house with trees on the board, leading to more than fifty students copying that drawing in their notebooks. Al-Maori says that she doesn’t like teaching art this way, but the matter is out of her hands.
“The art subject is completely marginalized in the school. Each level has one art class per week. The class is the last period, and its marks aren’t within the total marks of other subjects. All these things mean that the students don’t care, considering it to be an unimportant subject.”
Al- Maori added that she doesn’t follow a specific curriculum from the government. She makes her own curriculum and is free in specifying things that she sees as suitable.
“This isn’t the problem, but the problem is the lack of potential to teach this subject. When I plan to make workshops, or make students work in groups, the number of students don’t allow it, nor the size of class and the time I am given.”
Al-Maori also says that the school doesn’t provide her with simple tools like colors, worksheets, and other crafts. Students also don’t have the ability to buy these things on their own. Unfortunately, this is the case in most other public schools.
Art teacher Sawsan Emad at Unity School said that she wonders why the schools or parents don’t appreciate the importance of art, since it makes students feel comfortable in expressing their ideas and feelings.
“I myself feel like I’m not important in the school. I’m the only art teacher. I teach all the levels for a salary of YR 25, 000 per month. Moreover, the school doesn’t provide me with the necessary materials. Sometimes the management gives my classes to the teachers of other subjects, especially in the exams days so that they can revise their studies. The parents visit their sons, and they ask about their level in all subjects except mine!”
Private schools are a bit different, since higher budgets allow for more materials and there are also healthier attitudes towards art. There is also a low student-teacher ratio in art classes.
In Roba al-Yemen school, art teacher Jihad said that she enjoys teaching the subject, and also gets a great deal of support. Jihad teaches no more than fifteen students in each class.
“Art isn’t less important than other subjects. It breaks the feeling of boredom and tiredness. It makes students love school because in this class they are out of their daily routine; far away from books, pens, boards and writing. Instead they have colors, glue, scissors, sand, creativity and whatever the work requires.”
“Through teaching art subject, I can discover student’s problems and weak points, and help them resolve them. I can discover their hobbies and talents, and help them to develop them.”
Jihad explained that teachers shouldn’t give students rules to follow in drawing or in doing any art work. They should encourage them to think freely in order to develop their abilities.”
Manager Duha Ahmed of Roba al-Yemen school says that she is keen to give two periods a week for art in every level. She spoke about the importance of art in developing a sense of beauty and flair in students, as well as helping them discover the environmental and social sides of their lives.
She added that through art, we can recognize student tendencies, and develop them in a manner that adds purpose to their lives.
Roba al-Yemen school holds an exhibition every year, which is a competitive festival in which students show their works and are encouraged to work hard and produce more.
“These events encourage students to do offer their best as well as exchange experiences from each other.”
Ahmed expressed her hope to announce art as a basic subject that is equal to other subjects.
“Considering art subject as not a basic subject is the main reason for the lack of interest in it. This subject be compulsory for all levels and in all public and private schools, not to make our children artists and painters; but, in order to help the child see their own personality, and finds themselves, refining their mind and soul.”
The National Dialogue Conference included outputs related to art and sports in all public schools, including the revival of artistic culture, and the establishment of school theaters. Teachers and principals are all hopeful about the NDC outputs and wonder if it can build a better social attitude towards art.
By Tamjid Alkohali