How do the Arts help us understand the world in which we live?

“We are a learning community passionate about providing an International Education, which inspires and encourages learning and intercultural understanding”

-Sotogrande International School mission statement-


Arts and world knowledge

The IB focuses on an international & intercultural education and it is a philosophy to which Sotogrande International School adheres and indeed holds dear.  At DP level the study and critique of Arts forms around the world is a requirement, allowing our students the opportunity to extend their appreciation of the global diversity and purpose of the Arts. Through this research and analysis our Arts students gain a better understanding of the culture and people from which the Arts form derived.


DP Theatre The Research Presentation requires the students to present an insight into one chosen


theatrical practice that is ´other´ from their home culture. This year´s fascinating selection has included Indian Kathakali, British Pantomime, Indonesian Wayang Kulak puppetry, Balianese Barong Dance & Chinese Beijing Opera.


DP Music

One of the main components of the DP Music course is World Music. We look at the role that music plays in the lives of people in other countries and how the majority of native music is passed on through oral traditions. We then go into much greater depth and analyse the pieces in terms of the musical elements of melody, harmony, timbre, form, rhythm, texture etc. The surprising thing for students is that, although on the face of it, the music of each culture is very different, they actually share many common musical features. Who would have thought that there could be similarities between the bagpipe music of Scotland and the music of land-locked Laos, for example, or between Native American Sioux music and the United Arab Emirates?

Students undertake their own extended research project to find significant musical links between apparently unrelated cultures. They are free to choose any cultures that interest them. They then present their findings as a media script.


DP Art

In Visual Arts the students journey through an investigation and discovery into art making throughout history and around the world. 20% of the course is based on a Comparative Study of 2-3 different artists. This compares and contrasts the skills and techniques inherent in the arts work, often unique to the country and culture of origin. Two beautiful examples were by Henry Shields and Isabel Tate with a comparison of Grayson Perry´s pottery from the UK with 15th Century Ming porcelain and the work of artist Wei Wei. This comparative study underpins the students´ process portfolio and exhibition development.


Political statement on art on original Ming Vase by Wei Wei & pottery by Grayson Perry

Political statement on art on original Ming Vase by Wei Wei & pottery by Grayson Perry

MYP Arts

Some of our M5 & DP students on their Arts trip to Malaga

Some of our M5 & DP students on their Arts trip to Malaga

Our MYP curriculum also aims at building breadth of cultural study into our units enabling the students to have a window into different perspectives and alternative techniques and artistic conventions. The experiential experiences we offer our students also help our students to see the relevance of Art and its place in the real world. The M5 Arts trip to Malaga has recently taken students to two cutting edge exhibitions at the CAC and Pompidou museums whilst also appreciating the street graffiti that has been allowed to flourish in selected side streets.

Arts & culture

Malaga is a wonderful city that hums with the Arts. Magicians, gold painted street statues, chirigotas and sculptures by Dali line Calle Larios. It is not a coincidence that each Olympics opens with a spectacular performing arts experience. The hosting countries always use the arts as the vehicle through which they wish to represent their cultural identity to the rest of the world. Any city wanting to promote tourism will employ the Arts as its main marketing strategy.


Street art and performing artists- Malaga city

Street art and performing artists- Malaga city

If students do not have the opportunity to study the Arts it would be hard to foster a sense of value in their cultural heritage and a sense of unity with their home culture. Your own personal connection to your culture is also intrinsically linked to the Arts and a positive patriotism is fostered through this heritage whether it is the Beatles, Edinburgh Fringe, The Proms, Spanish Carnival or the Bolshoi ballet.

Wei Wei´s sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern, London.

Wei Wei´s sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern, London.


When dictators want to stamp their political design & ideology on a country and its people the first step they take to clamp down on freedom of expression is to close the theatres, radio stations and art galleries. People in power understand that the Arts is the voice of the people. Boal in Argentina, Lorca in Spain, Wei Wei in China, Vuyisile Mini in South Africa (the list is in exhaustive) all persecuted for their ability to question an authority in place. Understanding the power of the Arts and the messages an Artist is able to convey to an audience is a key part of the learning journey and socio-political maturity.

We also strive to apply the Sotogrande International School mission statement through the reality of the experiential opportunities offered at the school. Last year´s whole school theatrical experience ´Red Red Shoes exemplified this.

With a focus on the continuing refugee crisis our vision was to raise awareness of our responsibility as a global community to protect the human rights of those who are being forced into asylum, particularly those children who are the innocent victims caught in the middle of complex and unfathomable chaos. This event allowed specific Kindred Project initiatives to have a platform for both helping to underpin the understanding of the SIS community in what KP does, whilst also providing opportunities for our student body for extended and authentic learning within the curriculum.

Red Red Shoes

Red Red Shoes

The Arts help us understand our society in its entirety; they are the past, how we are evolving and where we are heading.


Christine Barling

Leader of Learning SIS Arts

DP Theatre & MYP Drama





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