I think it's safe to say that the fondest memories most of us hold from our school days are those we spent on school camps and day trips, away from the classroom and exploring the unknown. You are taken out of your comfort zone and challenged to show your independence, given the space to open up and let in new friends and knowledge, then sent home thriving from all you achieved.
With this in mind, we asked the schools in Shanghai about their experiences on student trips. Whether the children took a bus to a city museum or a flight to Tanzania, at the core of their adventure was a desire to create an appreciation for the world around them, and identify how they can make a positive impact in the future.
With passionate teachers, curious minds and inspiring locations, the students were given a solid foundation to view the world through a different lens and create lasting memories. Now, let's hear from Emily Osann, Head of Art at Shanghai United International School Gubei, about their engaging museum trips during the year.
Experiencing art firsthand allows you to slow down, look closely and gain a more meaningful understanding. We're so used to looking at our screens or seeing images that other people have captured and I don’t think art carries the same significance this way. When we see art in real life, people are surprised in many ways; to see the scale of a Pollock painting, to sense the humanly presence of a Gormley figure, to understand the mess of mixed media in a Michael Chow conglomerate piece, or the thick frost-like texture of Thiebaud’s cakes.
While teaching Art at SUIS Gubei over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of planning and accompanying students on a wide range of trips to art galleries and museums, such as the Rockbund Art Museum, M50 Art District, Long Museum, Shanghai Gallery of Art, The Yuz Museum, Power Station of Art and Red Town. As an art educator, I believe it’s important for people of all ages to gain exposure to art in gallery and museum settings, to practice talking about and looking at art first hand. Every year, I have planned trips for each year group to give as many students as possible the chance to visit art museums and galleries. I am grateful that our school is very supportive of the arts and this philosophy.
Last year, we took our Grade 8 and 11 students to The Power Station of Art to see two exhibitions: Toyo Ito: On the Stream and Body Media II. This was a big trip that included almost 160 students. The senior acted as art mentors to the juniors, and their task was to engage the younger students in discussions about the artworks and to model appropriate ways of interacting with the art and behaving in a museum. The main aim was for both groups to engage with the artwork in a meaningful way through sketching, talking and writing. Secondary to that was building positive and meaningful relationships between and across the year groups.
However, the most memorable trip for me was one of the first trips I planned back in 2011, where, as part of our Typography Unit, we took our small group of Grade 7 students to M50 Art District. Each of the students prepared a letter stencil in their art class, which they brought to make their mark on the designated graffiti area along the Moganshan Lu wall. Using their stencils, we sprayed my favorite quote from Henry Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.”
This was such a unique experience as it allowed students to not only engage with artworks in the galleries we attended, but also make their own collaborative artwork that became a part of the wall. Most of the students who I took on this trip will be graduating this year. Some of them went on to study art in IGCSE and IB, and I’m sure this experience created a lasting impression on them and will have a positive impact on their lifelong appreciation of the arts. It certainly had a lasting impact on me as a teacher, highlighting the power of integrating the real world into school learning and the vital importance of experiencing art in real life.
Emily Osann is the Head of Art of Shanghai United International School Gubei