The Journey of the Creative and the School Curriculum

June 24, 2021
Scott Galbraith
Marlena Smallbone


School: Mosman Park Primary School

Year Group:

Teacher: Marlena Smallbone

Creative Practitioner: Scott Galbraith

Creative Practice: Dance

The school curriculum somehow wants us to tick boxes and a Creative’s job is to think outside the box. So why pair these two together?

My Creative Schools journey started by establishing a clear, supportive and positive relationship with the teacher, Marlena (curriculum deliverer) and myself, the Artist (Professional Contemporary Dancer). It was essential that this positive, symbiotic partnership was established early. The partnership needed to deliver eight, one and a half hour sessions in term 4 to the year 4 students at Mosman Park Primary. The sessions needed to consist of the Five Creative Habits of Learning (discipline, imagination, persistence, collaboration and inquisitiveness) and a curriculum focus, which in this case was Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), all other aspects were up to the students.

These sessions were a great opportunity to model and showcase the flexibility that dancers have, however, the difficulty in these sessions was bringing the Creative Habits to life in the classroom. The teacher provided the knowledge and information about the curriculum, and what the students were required to learn was very useful for myself when co-facilitating a session. When combining these two forces it became a powerful learning experience.

We decided to host a triple-bill performance based around endangered species. One section on critically endangered, another on endangered and the last section on threatened species. This project incorporated many curriculum aspects, including HASS, Art, Dance, Drama, Information and Technology and English. However, we discovered that it was extremely difficult to compose all of this in less than 9 hours ... But, it can be done! With the support of the teachers, parents and school, it was finalised and completed. By hosting a triple-bill performance it solidified the information that the students researched about their animals, as they needed to recite text in their plays.

The students also gave peer-reviewed feedback which was extremely important for the learning process. This was done by providing them with the choreographic tools that they needed to look for in their weekly performances and then getting them to review their own and others performances by sharing something that they liked and something that could use some improvement in the performance. This helped the students to remain active during the process of observing.

This performance was a one-of-a-kind opportunity and the impact of the skills they learnt had more weight than if they had done a simple presentation to the class. By providing more responsibility and more weight to the task being performed, students could solidify the information in the curriculum by connecting positive emotions and experiences that engaged them in the learning process to remember the necessary information.  

I found that this emotional connection between learning content and remembering it, is what the curriculum lacks. So often we are not processing or reflecting upon the information we receive and tying them to this emotional connection. Thus, I found the reflection process extremely useful for getting the students to remember the information that was learnt that day, by either tying it to a game or collaborating together to come up with peer reflections. It is important to acknowledge that all reflections and answers in this process are valid, as well as the feelings that connect us to our learning experiences.