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Story | Community
4 October 2021

QF teachers encourage self-expression through individual creativity

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On World Teachers’ Day, teachers at QF schools speak about inspiring their students to make their own mark in the world

Teachers and students at Qatar Academy Msheireb and Qatar Academy Doha – both schools under Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education – have embarked on an artistic journey that aims to empower students to make their mark based on Peter R. Reynolds’ book The Dot.

We used the mark on the wall at QAM to inspire students to make their unique mark in a way that will make the world a better place - not by being the best in the world, but simply by being the best they can be

Mohamed Ahmed
Mohamed Ahmed

Art galleries displaying students’ talents and artworks covered the schools’ premises from the car park up to the stairs, all the way to the classrooms, in celebration of self-expression and courage and sought to make a difference through unique and creative masterpieces.

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Art galleries displaying students’ talents and artworks covered the schools’ premises in celebration of self-expression and courage.

The art galleries were inspired by Reynolds’ book, which tells a story of a young girl who believed she could not draw, and whose teacher gently encouraged her to make a mark on a paper. She started with only a dot on the first day, which the teacher portrayed in a frame, and this dot was only the start of her art creations.

The story highlights how perseverance and change of perspective could lead to extraordinary things and the importance of encouraging and nurturing others. In the spirit of the book, library and art teachers and the wellbeing coach at Qatar Academy Msheireb (QAM) joined creative forces to plot their very own QAM Dot celebration of art and expression for their students. And added a special twist that sent a powerful message.

Mohamed Ahmed, QAM’s art teacher and the curator of the QAM Dot Gallery, placed a “mark” at the height of 2.37m on a wall where the students enter school every day after Qatar athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim made his own mark at the Tokyo Olympics, winning an Olympic gold medal in the high jump.

The collaborative nature of the Dot Gallery fosters a sense of belonging for students, where a single artistic expression by one student is amplified in a sea of dots, on hallways covered in student artwork

Ghassan Barhoumeh
Ghassan Barhoumeh

“It wasn’t only the medal that Barshim won, but also the sportsmanship he demonstrated agreeing to share the gold medal with a competitor that inspired us to make the mark on the wall,” said Mohamed.

“In return, we used the mark on the wall at QAM to inspire students to make their unique mark in a way that will make the world a better place - not by being the best in the world, but simply by being the best they can be.”

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Qatar Academy Msheireb’s art teacher placed a ‘mark’ at the height of 2.37m on the wall at the school entrance, reflecting Qatar athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim’s high jump and sportsmanship, to inspire students.

Mohamed also introduced students to pointillism – the practice of applying small strokes or dots to a surface so that, from a distance, they appear to blend together - during art lessons and enabled them to explore different mediums for artistic expression. He has supported students with artistic ideas, resources, and a creative spark, but most importantly, advocated for student choice in the form of expression.

We also believe that arts help students express themselves in a safe place, and, now more than ever, we want our students to take risks and feel supported

Merle Soodyall
Merle Soodyall

Manal Ramadan, the QAM Library Specialist, shared the inspirational book The Dot in Arabic and English with her students. She regularly selects and shares books that stimulate reflective, critical, and creative thinking to help nurture students who are well-versed in engaging with and learning from meaningful stories.

Meanwhile, Ghassan Barhoumeh, Wellbeing Coach at QAM, spoke about the vital contribution of initiatives that involve the whole school, such as organizing the dot art galleries. And how it is essential in growing a supportive, positive school culture. “The collaborative nature of the Dot Gallery fosters a sense of belonging for students, where a single artistic expression by one student is amplified in a sea of dots, on hallways covered in student artwork,” he said.

“The fun of dressing up, wearing dots to school, with teachers joining in, contributes to the school spirit.”

As a school, we want to inspire students to trust in their abilities, to instill and share the value of confidence, creativity, and self-awareness

Ikhlas Ahmad
Ikhlas Ahmad

Qatar Academy Doha (QAD) also organized its own school art gallery. Merle Soodyall, Arts Lead Teacher at QAD, described this initiative as an opportunity and a platform for students to discover their hidden talents.

“In the story The Dot, the words of a compassionate teacher changed the life of a child,” she said. “We have many heroes in our school every day who help our students grow and flourish. We want to promote the arts and student wellbeing and encourage students to have a growth mindset.

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At QAD, students and teachers dressed up in dots, spots, and circles to celebrate the message of the “The Dot” book.

“We also believe that arts help students express themselves in a safe place, and, now more than ever, we want our students to take risks and feel supported.”

Ikhlas Ahmad, a Lead Teacher for Grade 5 students at QAD, emphasized the power of words that The Dot illustrates, saying: “As a school, we want to inspire students to trust in their abilities, to instill and share the value of confidence, creativity, and self-awareness. As a school, we encourage all students to be risk-takers and open-minded.”

At QAD, students participated in activities that resonated with the message of the book. Students dressed up in dots, spots, and circles, sang the Dot song in their music class, and added movements to it, and teachers wore special T-shirts to advocate and promote creativity, courage, and confidence.

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