The arts inspiring environmental action

The arts inspiring environmental action

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BY: Guest Writer
02 Apr 2024

Dr Rona D. Linklater from the School of Psychology and Humanities at Arts Award centre, University of Central Lancashire, tells us about a unique integrated creative arts approach designed to galvanise Key Stage 2 pupils into environmental action whilst working towards their Arts Award Discover and Explore.


I write this post to introduce MASC to the eco-beat’; MASC used as an acronym for Music, Art, Stories, Create. This series of books aims to provide opportunities for a planned approach to engaging children in the performing and creative arts while, at the same time, developing awareness of environmental issues. I have been fascinated throughout my career in education with how learning through performance and creative activities impacts on memory and on individual and collective attitudes. How facts learnt through art forms, such as singing when used as a mnemonic, are remembered for longer as compared to learning through the spoken word: how art forms, such as dance or visual imagery, can significantly affect mood, explicit social attitudes, and cognitions. This inspired me to combine my passion for the performing arts, with my work in cognitive psychology and with my love of nature, to encourage children to get involved with the environment through arts activities to help make a difference and protect our ecosystem.

My Arts Award journey

I trained as an Arts Award adviser because I share the Arts Award ethos. I believe that children of all ages and abilities grow through collective participation. I saw how communication increased for the less confident     through collaboration; individual talents were nurtured and allowed to blossom; new skills emerged in areas previously unexplored; and experiences were shared to allow learning to develop. This was particularly evident when small groups worked together, for example, after attending a theatre concert, to research the composer or artists, or explore the work of the theatre management or the artwork and lighting effects. Or how they used a current news event to develop their own poems and songs to present at our Arts Week event.

I began by delivering Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Awards. However, many successful portfolios later, I embarked on training for the Discover and Explore levels. In particular, this prepared me to advise non-arts-specialist primary school teachers on how to increase class motivation—especially in music lessons. From my experience as an Arts Award adviser, our student portfolios most frequently praised by moderators showed an integrated approach across the disciplines. For example, the sharing of ideas and the development of constructive advice from peers following performance.

I know when considering Arts Award for your school, or training as an adviser, assessment can be daunting. However, key is communicating to the children exactly what is to be included in the portfolio and assessed, from clear criteria as confirmed by our success rate (a factor that helped me achieve ‘Artsmark Gold’ from Arts Council England with my former school).

‘Ava Goes Green’ (MASC to the eco-beat, Book 1)

MASC_Kat_Vignette‘Ava Goes Green’ highlights issues surrounding plastic pollution through an integration of music, art, stories and creative differentiated tasks, told through the eyes of children, animals and birds. The values of Arts Award are positively encouraged in ‘Ava Goes Green’. For example, the novel songs, stories and activities suggest how children can participate individually or in pairs/groups; record and share their work; comment constructively on the work of their peers and research styles/genres/artists relevant to the stories or songs. Headings within each chapter, such as ‘Let’s Create’; ‘Let’s Discuss’; ‘Let’s Explore’; ‘Let’s Discover’; ‘Let’s Perform’ signpost the development of these Arts Award values. The book is ideal for pupils undertaking Discover or Explore through class lessons, as an extra-curricular activity or during outreach programmes.

The way forwardBook 1 bundle HR

There is an urgent need to recognise the devastating effects our everyday habitual behaviour is having on our planet. The attitudes and actions of our children towards the world they are inheriting are crucial if we are to make a difference and fight climate change collectively. Arts Award can encourage children to explore these issues and develop their communication through performance and creativity. They have the potential to turn the climate fear of our children into climate fun!

There is no more powerful message in the 21st century than climate change. There is no more powerful vehicle for communicating and delivering such a message to children than the performing and creative arts. So… Inspire—Create—Enjoy!

For Arts Award centres wishing to purchase multiple copies of ‘Ava Goes Green’ a discount will be available by code when ordered from my website.


NB All music, stories and illustrations for MASC to the eco-beat books copyright to MASCinAction

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