Artists in Schools Program at SMK Panji, Kota Bharu, Kelantan (AiS #10)

When I was told that out of about 40 students who were going to attend AiS 10 at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Panji, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 10 of them would be slow or struggling learners, we was wondering: how should we handle them? Will they be participative? Will they behave? I never had any experience dealing with them let alone in the previous AiS sessions.

And, how about the artist? Could he?

The guest artist was Ismail Kadir, an established Kota Bharu painter who had been in the national art scene for about 30 years. Dressed up in batik, his main message: learn how to draw first. He taught them how to use both graphite and colored pencils: how to hold a pencil, do perspective drawings, and mix colors to produce stronger and livelier artworks. His phase-by-phase and one-to-one teaching approaches were instrumental in not only creating a very friendly ambience for the students but also helping the students to uncover their artistic capacities thus their confidence at a faster rate.

As for the struggling learners, they turned out to not only behaved superbly but also demonstrated an undivided attention to the session. They were much quieter and more reserved than the rest of the students, thus easier to deal with. But one noticeable thing: they showed a great enthusiasm in doing the assignments the artist handed over to the class. Some of their drawings were exceptionally magnificent: a proof that academic learning capacity has nothing to do with one’s artistry. Perhaps, this is what Ismail had been stressing earlier: what is wrong academically may be something beautiful in a painting.

Thank you so much Mr. Ismail and to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Panji for inviting us.