The Creative Arts Course:
A Conversation with Maria Sezer and Margaret Halıcıoğlu
Art teacher Maria Sezer and music teacher Margaret Halıcıoğlu talk about the Creative Arts program, an interdisciplinary rotation course for Lise Preps in art, music, drama and 3D art, designed to develop student creativity, which they have been involved in for many years.
What is the Creative Arts course?
MS: Creative Arts is a course where prep students have the chance to learn to express their ideas through an art form on chosen topics during a 2-hour course each week. Students rotate each quarter of the year to experience a different art form: music taught by Margaret Halıcıoğlu, 2-D art taught by Celeste Pierson, drama taught by Jake Becker and 3-D Art taught by me.
MH: It is interdisciplinary, thematic, and non-graded. The students work for about 6 weeks and then come together for a sharing. The emphasis is on process rather than finished product.
How did it start? Why did you develop it?
MS: It started in the 1980s. I decided that our students should have some basic knowledge of art history when they graduated from middle school. Soon I asked our music teacher Jerry Kent to join me during the art history lectures and talk about music from the same period. Later, this method evolved into cooperation with dance and drama. We called it ‘combined arts’ at that time. Later Margaret Halıcıoğlu joined and then Doryne Narin, and since then many others have taught in this course.
What themes are covered?
MH: Recent themes have been Money, Rituals, Evolution, and Protest. Since it is not an MEB course, the themes are up to the teachers. Each one of the four teachers chooses a theme for the year. Taking “evolution” as an example, in Music, they “evolve” the Finale from Beethoven’s 9th symphony, e.g., make a Turkish version of it by changing the time signature to five beats in a bar, playing the melody on glass bottles.
What do you aim for students to get out of it?
MS: To learn to explore ideas through the arts and to be able to express themselves through the arts, acquire different language skills than what is used in regular subjects, work in groups, and to create a respect and understanding for the arts in general.
MH: Students can take risks because there are no grades attached. They are encouraged to be courageous and show something about themselves.