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Full STEAM ahead

    07 July 2017

Nick Fisher

Head Master, Sherfield School

Sherfield School has a relentless drive to change, innovate and improve. Our new school strategy includes a focus on creative thinking, deep learning and the connections between subjects, particularly the arts and sciences. This will be launched through our STEAM initiative: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Creativity is not the sole domain of the arts. Science is itself a highly creative discipline that is reflective, constantly challenges its own ideas and pushing its boundaries.

Good scientists never blindly accept the status quo.

The connections and blurring of boundaries between arts, humanities and sciences helps to foster creative thought and transferrable skills in pupils.  The positive impact of breaking down walls between subjects also serves as an important metaphor for society.

STEAM promotes divergent thinking. It encourages 21st Century Skills of Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation. STEAM helps take a multi-disciplinary approach to a problem. Innovative companies around the world like Google, Apple, and Intel rely on employees with a mind for science, but an eye for design. STEAM promotes a holistic approach to learning which supports the whole child, stimulates all the senses for deeper, more meaningful learning, helps develop Multiple Intelligences and addresses varied learning styles. Design is increasingly becoming a key differentiator for technology start-ups and products.

Activities related to the arts are crucial in developing a better brain. A large part of the brain is devoted to processing visual information. The same systems are used in the brain to process visual information and to create fantasy. This is why virtual reality, television, and books can be so compelling.

The anterior parts of the brain are devoted to language skills. Cognitive Psychologist, Steven Pinker, and linguist, Noam Chomsky, have both pointed out how the human brain is born with networks that help in rapid acquisition of language in childhood. Studies of children raised in isolation have shown that if language skills aren’t developed in childhood then it is not always easy to rectify in adulthood.

Studies also show that children learn better through movement. It is no longer acceptable to insist that pupils sit passively in classrooms day after day, month after month, year after year. Parts of the cerebrum and the cerebellum are devoted to coordinating movement. We need to learn to think about our movements before we move so that we control them better.  So every time we decide to move, or take action, this decision is preceded by neural activity that sets goals and analyses outcomes. It is only then that a neural decision is taken to execute movements. Teaching dance and drama in school can clearly help develop a learning brain.

And from drama we can then sound out music: there are parts of the brain that respond only to music. If we want children with active brains, we would be well advised to incorporate music in our lessons and also include activities that develop musical abilities. Playing a guitar, for instance, is an incredibly complex action. It involves the visual part of the brain processing the notes, it involves the psychomotor parts of both hemispheres of the brain – with the right hand strumming the strings and the left hand changing chords, and finally it involves the parts of the brain responsible for vocalizing the tune – and all the while the brain needs to be aware of what’s happening in the room and gauge the response of the listening audience. I now understand why I have found it so hard to progress!

An interest in performing arts leads to a high state of motivation that produces the sustained attention needed to improve performance in other subjects. Specific links exist between high levels of music training and the ability to manipulate information in both working and long-term memory; these links extend beyond the domain of musical training.

And finally, the idea that History, Mathematics and Sciences are academic subjects and Art, Music and Drama and Dance are not is staggeringly wrong.  In Bloom’s Taxonomy, the pyramid of learning climbs from factual recall through understanding, application, analysis and evaluation to creativity.  The creative synthesis that can develop early in drama through devised pieces, and music through composing, is accessible to pupils in school well before they are in a position to do a PhD in Physics.  The creative and performing arts are challenging intellectually and provide opportunities for pupils to engage with high level creative thinking that can help their studies in all subjects.

In short, pupils engaging with the creative and performing arts will develop sophisticated thinking skills that can help with life-long learning.

Nick Fisher

Head Master

Sherfield School

 

Events

  • Open Day 7th March

        04 March 2019

    We are looking forwards to welcoming prospective parents to Sherfield on 7th March

  • International Language Evening

        05 October 2018

    On Friday 28 September, in recognition of European Languages Week, Sherfield hosted an International Languages Evening. The event provided a platfor...

  • Student Art and Design Exhibition - 25th June

        18 June 2018

    2018 Student Art and Design Exhibition

  • The annual 'Dash for Ash' 5k run

        07 June 2018

    The annual 'Dash for Ash' is upon us once again...

  • Battle of the Bands!

        14 May 2018

    The Performing Arts Team would like to invite you all to our annual "Battle of the Bands"

  • Joe Waller - Acoustic Show

        20 April 2018

    Join us on Friday 27 April in the Courtyard Studio to enjoy this Acoustic Show with Joe Waller featuring Jamie Peterson and Rob Purkiss. 

  • Figure and Flow Exhibition

        18 April 2018

    We welcome you to join us at the Private View on 27 April from 6pm-7pm. 

  • Rock and Pop Concert - Friday 23 March 2018

        27 March 2018

    A rocking Courtyard Studio event with some amazing pupils on showcase.

  • Marjorie Collins - Open Exhibition

        23 March 2018

    On Friday 16th March, Sherfield Gallery hosted the private view of its current exhibition, by the winning artist from this year’s Open Exhibition, Mar...

  • Year 7 Bloodhound: Race for the Line

        23 March 2018

    During Design and Technology lessons year 7 students have been working in teams to create model rocket cars. This was part of a national scheme sponso...

  • Sports Relief 2018

        23 March 2018

    We have had a fun week raising money for Sports Relief starting with three-legged races on Tuesday. On Wednesday pupils were able to participate in a ...

  • Marjorie Collins - Winner of Open Exhibition 2017

        14 March 2018

    We would like to welcome you to join us 16-19 March 2018, with a private view 16 March 6.00pm-7.00pm.

  • World Book Day 2018

        09 March 2018

    On Thursday 8 March we celebrated a belated World Book Day, pupils and staff from across the school were dressed up as their favourite book character.

  • British Science Week Celebrations 9-16 March 2018

        19 February 2018

    We have an exciting Science Week planned for our pupils here at Sherfield School. This week will provide a great opportunity to engage pupils in hands...

  • Oliver!

        26 January 2018

    Only 4 days left to purchase your tickets for the Sherfield School production of Oliver!

  • Open Exhibition

        09 January 2018

    We welcome you to join us during our Open Exhibition

  • Two Flutes!

        09 January 2018

    We welcome Two Flutes to Sherfield School this half term as part of our Liddell Concert Series

  • Bonfire Night 2017

        19 October 2017

    Join us for our annual bonfire spectacular!

  • Undercurrent 14:21 Auditions - Saturday 21 October

        12 October 2017

    The new home for Youth Theatre in North Hampshire

  • OPEN Exhibition 19 January - 7 March 2018

        19 September 2017

    A platform for contemporary visual art: painting, sculpture, photography, print, textiles and drawing.

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