SCHOOL Reef – Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts
In 2012–2013 we were lucky to add a Canadian endeavor to our School Reef program, when the Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts joined our network. Located at the base of Sumas Mountain in southwestern British Columbia, Abbotsford's curriculum is built on the belief that "the Arts are a vehicle for learning, the lens through which students acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to find success in academic study, career and personal life."
Heather Beckett, at teacher at the school, recognized the Crochet Coral Reef as a great interdisciplinary opportunity for a school devoted to exactly that, so she initiated a School Reef in the close-knit community of students in grades 6-12. In her words,
One of the other major reasons for choosing this project is that it represents a combination of many of the things that are educationally powerful about the Integrated Arts program, but are sometimes difficult to articulate. The development of imagination has been identified as one of the most significant emerging needs in education. An open and imaginative approach to new situations is one of the most valuable life skills we can help our young people develop, and integration of arts into the educational process at all levels is one of the most accessible ways to do this.
During the course of this project, the transition from balls of yarn to an undersea forest was so dramatic it really engaged students’ imaginations, and helped them experience possibility. Who would have thought that something as ordinary as learning to crochet could lead to such an extravagant and amazing display of sea life? In education we often say that the one who asks the questions is the one who learns, and teachers always try to frame lessons and projects so that students are asking questions instead of just answering them. This type of project encourages students to take their questioning to a new level and instead of thinking, “Have I done the right thing?” they think “hmm, what are the possibilities here?” It is this opportunity to consider, and then explore what might be possible in a creative way, that really demonstrates the philosophy of arts integration.
We at the IFF especially loved reading the comments from Abbotsford students, some of them reflecting the joys and complexities of working collaboratively!
My favourite thing is that the pieces don’t really look like anything by themselves but when you put them all together it looks so real. It shows the benefit of all working together. (Grade 6)
I like learning to make the curly ones, I feel like I don’t want to stop. (Grade 7)
I didn’t think my crochet was very good, it was all lumpy and weird but it looked perfect in the display. (Grade 7)
Can we do this every year? (Grade 10)
I learned a lot about the sea life, I didn’t know there were so many different kinds of star fish. (Grade 10)
I always thought crochet was just a thing my Grandma did, I never really thought of it as art before. (Grade 12)
The Abbotsford School Reef was displayed in the main entrance of the school building May through June of 2013.
List of Contributors