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Taking Center Stage: The Value of Self-Expression

Written by Aaron Hoose, MYP/DP Theatre and DP Theory of Knowledge Teacher at SCIS Hongqiao 

How important is it for young people to cultivate their creativity? In today's fast-paced and highly competitive world, creativity is a highly valued asset. Yet, with the increasing focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, there is a risk that creative pursuits such as the arts may be overlooked. This is a concern as creative expression not only enhances students' emotional and social well-being but also helps develop skills that are essential for success in all areas of life. From problem-solving and critical thinking to communication and collaboration, the benefits of creative expression cannot be overstated. So, the question is, are we doing enough to encourage and support young people in developing their creativity? 

In the past several weeks, if you were to pass by the theatre on the Hongqiao campus of SCIS, you would see a group of students on stage rehearsing scenes from the play Romeo, You Idiot, by Tim Kochenderfer. The actors are working hard to bring the characters to life, but they are not the only ones involved in the production. The student stage manager is calling cues, the student directors are giving notes to the actors, and the student designers of set, costume, light, and sound are all contributing their own artistic vision to the production.  

Through this collaborative process, students at SCIS are learning how to communicate effectively and work together towards a common goal. They are discovering the value of each other's ideas and perspectives, and they are learning how to express themselves creatively in a supportive environment.  

But the benefits of participating in a theatre production go beyond just learning how to express oneself creatively. Students also learn valuable skills that can help them in many areas of their lives. For example, acting in a play can help students become effective public speakers. They learn how to project their voices, use body language to convey emotion and connect with an audience. 

Furthermore, the creative process involved in putting on a play can be incredibly rewarding. Students learn how to work hard and persevere through challenges. They learn how to take constructive criticism and use it to improve their performance. And perhaps most importantly, they form lifelong memories from the hard work of the creative process, and form bonds with one another that last years. 

In a multicultural community like SCIS, the performing arts can be an especially valuable venue for students to express themselves. Through theatre, students can explore different cultures and perspectives, and learn to appreciate the diversity of their community. They can use their art to create a dialogue about important issues and to promote understanding and empathy. 

As the great philosopher Aristotle once said, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." The arts are not merely a form of entertainment or leisure activity; they are a vital component of a well-rounded education. Through creative expression, students can learn to understand themselves and the world around them on a deeper level. They can develop important skills that will serve them well in all areas of life, and they can learn to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the human experience. So, let us continue to value and support the arts in education, and recognize the transformative power they have in shaping the minds and hearts of our future generations. 

SCIS. Renaissance Ideal.

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