Since 2001, when Norton Tennille offered me to teach a class of grade 9s at Sinethemba High School, I had the feeling that the field of Arts was a truly important medium for hope and mind opening for the townships under-privileged schools. Year after year of volunteering work in these schools, it was confirmed by every teacher that the learners were highly enthusiastic after my lectures, and it benefited their results.
To assist the teachers with illustrations and texts, I have developed a CD as a presentation module about my various subjects like History of Art, Architecture, Archeology, Graphic arts, Photography and Signs of the Body.
This year once again, my work at Zisukhanyo was to lecture 6 classes of grades 8 and 9 (with 50 learners in each) who were in the school’s Creative Arts section. My first presentation was to introduce the World of Arts and what to do with arts! The teacher and learners did not imagine where artistic education could take them in the future.
I presented various subjects in coordination with the teacher wishes, particularly the Signs of the Body (scarification, tattooing etc.) relating to different cultures, traditions, signs and symbols. Two other lectures were on the Renaissance (Da Vinci and Michelangelo) a theme about Freedom of Thinking) in relation with sciences, politics and religion and Modern Times (Salvador Dali and Picasso). The last lecture was on my Own Portfolio of drawings, watercolors and photographs, in relation to expressing one’s feelings – anger, happiness or fear – as well as keeping records of people and places, like in my Travel Note Books.
The learners were all asked to show me their own work so I could help and advise them how to improve the quality of their drawings, before the coming tests. At the end of the last lecture each class expressed their feelings through a farewell speech saying that if I was there with them it was that I loved them and they loved me too!!!
I heartily thank the highly respected Arts teacher Mr Madoda Gcwadi for his assistance and the way he encouraged his learners to express their feelings about the subjects I presented. I tremendously appreciated the good atmosphere of his different classes and it was a great pleasure to work with them all. They behaved in a very orderly and graceful manner during the lectures, asking questions in English or in Xhosa.
From Madoda Gcwadi, teacher: Thank you Michel for sharing your precious time with the grade 8 and 9 learners at Zisukhanyo High School. Your teaching brought whole new perspectives and fresh energy to the Creative Arts students. Your ability to teach with passion and wisdom has opened windows of endless possibilities to the students. For that, we are truly grateful. I was touched when one of the students shared that he now knows where he can express his anger….”Thank you Michel for teaching me to share my anger and feelings through Arts.” he said with a smile on his face. To these students, ARTS means freedom.
Our children are extremely talented. A space to express that talent is extremely important. In their souls they have rhythm, a voice that is valuable and creativity that is vibrant. It is through ARTS that this energy is given space and permission to grow. I have witnessed uniqueness and diversity embraced through ARTS. Is it not true that innovation flourishes through creativity? To these students, creativity is the only gift that they can fully express through ARTS.