Interdisciplinary literacy and empowerment in schools

by Sean Tobin | 1 September 2015

There is a freedom of personal expression and openness to interpretation that we afford to the visual arts that we rarely afford to theatre.

As teachers and students of any subject it’s important to remind yourself of the limitations of dividing up our teaching and learning into different subjects. But while we do have to accept these constraints, we don’t have to be completely bound by them. The spaces in between different art languages has always interested and challenged me, and so I welcome this opportunity to reflect upon them. I would like to share a little of my own perspective in exploring the connection between the worlds of theatre and visual arts, and some ideas as to how you might bridge them in your own teaching.

My journey
Even as a high school student in Australia, I felt torn between my love for visual arts and theatre. I was lucky that I had the same teacher for both subjects however, and while no formal or explicit interdisciplinary or cross-curricular connections were made, at least this created a sense of kinship between the two areas of study. The theatre classroom and the art studio were side by side with a linking door that we could happily flow through, if we needed to. I think it meant something for me to have a teacher who was so comfortable and inspiring in both fields, and I wasn’t made to feel the two subjects were in tension, threat or competition with each other in any way. I think this kind of “hidden curriculum” is important to acknowledge and leverage on as much as we can.

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