Junior Arts visits Auckland Grammar

10 January 2018

We piloted our new Junior Arts programme for the first time at the end of last year at Auckland Grammar School.

Junior Arts consists a series of engaging 50-minute workshops for Year 9 and 10 students that draw on content developed by our academics and are delivered by our undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The programme proved to be a perfect fit for Auckland Grammar School's Junior Activities Week, in which junior students have a week of activities around the school while senior students are sitting their examinations. Across four days, we ran 90 workshops, drawing on themes found in Criminology, English, Anthropology, Philosophy and Art History for around 500 of their Year 10 students.

Auckland Grammar's Head of Social Sciences John Etty and Headmaster Tim O'Connor wrote that the sessions "exposed our young men to mental exercises they would not otherwise have experienced".

As part of the workshops, the students:

  • Used creative problem-solving to generate discussion on hacking as a way to broader consideration of participation in democratic societies.
  • Considered their perception of diversity and their understanding of the world around them using sensory associations through language, symbols and text.
  • Engaged through gaming with settlement patterns and migration theory in the Pacific context.
  • Considered how ideas and arguments are constructed and evaluated the underlying premises and logical construction of arguments that are familiar to them.
  • Considered the content, provenance and genre of contemporary music videos.

One student said that the poetry session was the most challenging because it made him think a lot, the philosophy section was most interesting because he learned about new words, and the art history workshop was his favourite because of the exercise captioning famous artworks to make them into memes.

Another said that he learned how to turn his feelings into poetry, think about the music videos he watches in another light, and that crime is not always black and white.

John and Tim said that "the sessions were extremely well designed, and they were pitched and paced at a level that was very appropriate for our students. Quizzes and prizes, as well as real-world, authentic examples and applications made these sessions highly engaging for our young men."

The Junior Arts programme was developed by Dr Caroline Vercoe and Monique Warder as an accessible way of bringing the skills developed through Arts study into high schools in a research-led way.

They are looking forward to taking the Junior Arts programme into Otahuhu College this year, and working to bring more schools on board.

Find out more about Junior Arts