|Arts Focus with Raisedon Baya|
|Saturday, 28 July 2012 19:54|
Who should conduct workshops in schools?The above question was asked by a fellow artiste on one of the social network forums that have sprouted on the internet. There are so many of these social network groups on the internet reflecting the diversity of the groupings in the sector and, ironically, the fragmentation as well. The fellow artiste in question asked the above question not just to provoke debate among artistes and educators on the social network but because he was deeply concerned about what he had observed happening in schools with regards to arts and culture.
His concerns were more to do with the image artistes and the sector in general continued to project to the general public. As a matter of fact, the general consensus among many is that there is no order or a proper system governing and running the arts in this country. Everyone seems to be doing as they please and worse everyone and anyone is an artiste.
Another concern was probably about the welfare of the children or students who participate in these impromptu workshops that at most have no objectives and are hastily planned and at worst are parachuted into schools at very short notices. Is this what one might call arts education? One wonders. True. Arts education must be seen to be taking place in schools. Yes. arts education is being introduced in most schools in Zimbabwe. However, this does not mean that every artiste or pseudo-artistes can waltz into any school and share or conduct a workshop. There must be a system, particularly of vetting those that get into schools.
Artistes who get into schools must be accredited, they must prove beyond doubt that they can facilitate on specific topics. And those working with young students, particularly at primary level should have a basic understanding of child psychology and basic knowledge theories on education. This is because education is a special field.
As we write there are “artistes” moving from one school to another conducting a series of workshops from dance, theatre, writing and music and charging schools and students’ participation fees. We say “artistes” in quotes because the bulk of them are not known to the arts community. They have no known body of work; they were never seen in a proper arts school or academy. But these take us back to that mind-boggling question: exactly who is an artiste? What qualifies one to be an artiste? Difficult questions. It must be clear that we are not saying artistes should not be allowed into schools. There is actually nothing wrong with artistes doing workshops in schools. However, it is the calibre of people conducting these workshops that has become cause for concern.
This is the concern that has seen some artistes calling for checks and balancing that will ensure the right people are getting into schools and facilitating workshops. Arts Focus is aware of some vetting currently being done by the department of arts culture. In fact, no one is allowed into schools without passing through and getting authorisation from the department. But how good is the department’s vetting system when some bogus artistes can still move around schools claiming to be conducting workshops? And what exactly are they teaching? What skills? Are they teaching or cheating? Another concern is that most of the artistes moving about have fabricated profiles — profiles as long as chapters of a novel, as entertaining too.
So the vetting has to be tight. Facilitators and trainers must be properly qualified and professional enough to go into schools. These should have some basic knowledge on how schools operate, some basic knowledge of a child’s learning behaviour and must have gone though some basic trainer’s training. Added to the above must be some basic educational theories. Without the above anyone wanting to facilitate must be denied access to schools. That is the only way we can maintain some sense of order and some semblance of standards.
On another matter
St Judes from Zhombe and Fatima High School will both be representing Kwekwe and the Midlands province at this year’s edition of The Plan High Schools Drama Competition after winning at both district and zonal level. Ten schools will compete in finals to be held during Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo in September. The theme for this year’s drama competition is Because I am Girl.