Inquiry in the Arts

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Inquiry in the Arts

What does inquiry look like in the Arts? What distinguishes the Arts classrooms at Cate? What are the main aspects of our Arts program?

Our Philosophy

Cate Students explore the wide world of Visual and Performing Arts through formal, technical study and expressive, collaborative, hands-on learning. Through abundant Academic and Co-curricular options, students have the opportunity to find connections with new forms of art and exciting disciplines they have an existing passion around. Students experiment, perform, and critique – they practice creative thinking and build a capacity for critical analysis – skills that are integral to the Arts and many other disciplines.

Foundational Principles and Distinctive Features of the Arts Program at Cate

  • Cate students discover the uses of art and artistic thinking in the world today and an awareness of what art is and has been in other cultures and periods. They develop the artistic skills and methods of Design Thinking, Materials Thinking, Creative Thinking, and Critical Analysis, integral to the arts and transferable to other disciplines.
  • Students begin with the common experience of Foundation Arts in the 9th grade, where they rotate through units of introducing Digital Photography,
  • Studio Art, Ceramics, Theater, Art History, and Instrumental Music, culminating in a month-long self-designed art inquiry activity.
  • Students select subsequent courses according to their needs and interests so that their experience is developmental, connected, and always challenging.
  • Teachers employ a distinctive pedagogy that ensures that learning experiences are challenging and inspiring, student-centered, and inquiry-driven.
  • Courses include Studio Art, Theater, Music, Ceramics, Photo/Digital Art, and Art History and electives range from beginner to advanced levels in most art forms. Students are required to take three yearlong art electives and many take more than three. Some take three every year.

Students engage in programs and activities, some of them unique to Cate, that complement the academic course offerings. These include:

  • Three trips annually to California museums, galleries, studios, and colleges.
  • The Art Relay: an invitational team activity in which each student has one full day, free of all commitments, in which to create an individual work as part of the team’s group of artworks.
  • “Varsity” Art: a season of intensive individualized activity undertaken during the sports period.
  • Competitions, workshops, and performances, locally, regionally, and internationally, including the national Scholastic Art Awards.
  • Dance: offered through the Athletics Department, and complemented by an active club scene for those pursuing the art form more deeply.
  • For instrumental musicians, access to the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and individual instruction from exceptional adjunct faculty.
  • A remarkably active artistic life and culture at Cate, where students artists and performers interact enthusiastically and supportively with each other, and experience encouragement and acclaim from the larger community.

Student Skills and Learning Responsibilities

Cate students will be able to:

  • Explore (find something that engages)
  • Create (envision, imagine, conceive, plan, prototype)
  • Do (Perform, Present, Produce)
  • Respond, Assess, Contribute, Collaborate, and Critique others’ work to develop better products
  • Communicate and Connect.
  • Learn to think and feel like an artist.
  • Develop the skills of various art forms.

Teaching Practices and Pedagogy

Cate Arts teachers:

  • Guide, organize, and provide curricular programs.
  • Ignite, challenge and motivate students to get excited about a skill, topic, or project.
  • Help students envision what a beautiful finished piece might look like.
  • “Chunk” to deliver insight and information.
  • Observe, question, and assess student work, responding with clear feedback.