TASIS - The American School In England TASIS - The American School In England

The Heart and Soul of Education

Nikki Holdaway, Head of Performing and Visual Arts, shares her insights on the importance of finding joy and self-expression through creativity, especially during this testing time.

Our world is one of restrictions – on where we can be, who we can see, and what we can do. It has tested the resilience of us all as we negotiate the pandemic’s impact and find ways to celebrate and find joy where we can. As teachers, we have the most important job in the world: to find ways to support and nurture our students in a time of confusion and fear. As Performing and Visual Arts teachers, we are focused on educating a students’ whole being. And, as artists, we are all trying to teach bravely, changing our ways and tools of teaching to accommodate uncertainty, stress, and isolation and to utilize the healing and explorative aspects of the Arts.

We are blessed at TASIS with strong arts programming, grounded in the passion of our founder, Mrs. Fleming, who said, “A love of the arts and performing arts is the heart and soul of education, for it grows throughout our entire lifetime, keeping alive the excitement of learning.”

The Arts are imperative for all of us and, for our students, now more than ever. Engaging with creative tasks like collaging, devising and performing, and playing as part of an ensemble gives them space to breathe, and allows students across all grade levels to find their own method of communication with the world, to discover themselves, and to find a greater sense of meaning in life.

When our students are feeling low, confused, or fearful, what do they do and where do they go to express themselves? Rather than perpetuating a student’s worries, we nurture, model, and encourage free and liberal use of their imaginations and as they grow into their creativity. Our students can communicate through music, connect through collaborative, expressive art projects, and examine human nature: the reason we do what we do and our own place within the world. Part of the TASIS Arts department’s uniqueness is that we are primarily process-driven, believing strongly that process outweighs the final product or performance. In these ways, we play our part by nurturing the holistic development of each child.

Our students may not study the arts to necessarily become the next generation of artists, but to stimulate a way of being in this world by considering, reflecting, analyzing, and communicating our emotions and feelings through the process of creating. What could be more important in the world right now?

See more photos in our Flickr album!