True to our view of art instruction as first and foremost a means for unlocking children’s full mental potential, the program is organized around the following four conceptual faculties: (1) INVENTION (2) OBSERVATION (3) EXPRESSION (4) COMMUNICATION with each major art project focused on one of the above capacities. In the course of each project, students receive instruction in art appreciation, history and criticism, elements and principles of visual design, techniques, vocabulary (related to the above), work habits, self-discovery, and empathy.
Our program is not model based: students use the same tools and materials, explore the same processes and concepts, and execute the same multi-step procedures, but there is an infinite variety of outcomes – it depends on each student’s own choices and aesthetic preferences. We believe that students should not feel judged by how close or far they are from a rigid standard of right or wrong. The pursuit of individual inquiry by each student is our goal. In this context and to this end, we aim to provide the following three conditions we consider essential to high performance:
Emotional safety is crucial to the creative process: in order to fully discover and express their own ideas and feelings, students must feel that they will not be compared to others and made to feel in any way inadequate or “wrong” for having these ideas and feelings. Diverse points of view are discussed and celebrated and contribute to the growth of empathy for others as well as self-understanding.
Challenge and stimulation are created through the presentation of age appropriately complex ideas through a variety of images, narratives, demonstrations, and discussions that invite student engagement. Most projects directly focus on student self-discovery and expression, further ensuring engagement.
High standards of expectations are set gently, but firmly. We ask students to be proud of everything they do, and to this end, they are expected to “polish” their work before it is considered finished, and “stretch” to reach the limits of their personal best.
We emphasize the importance of high quality process as the source of high quality work and growth: creating art is as much about the journey as it is about the completed artwork. Finished projects result from many opportunities to practice and master a multitude of skills. Students learn how to control and use tools and materials to their best ability; they are encouraged to attend to and value their process as much as their end products. Doing our best work contributes to feelings of self-respect and competence. Learning to slow down, focus and become aware allows us to discover ideas and abilities we may not have even known we possess.
WNS's mission is to create a community of lifelong learners that nurtures students from diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential and inspires them to contribute to the world with confidence, creativity, curiosity, conscience and compassion.