Meet Susan Chapman: educator, researcher, singer, actor and now Griffith University Three Minute Thesis Challenge winner.

The Education PhD candidate’s presentation “Arts Immersion: An exciting way forward in education’’ proposes a new way of classroom learning.

“So many teachers are exhausted by an over-crowded curriculum,’’ she said.

“They struggle to fit in so many things into the school day and the arts becomes an afterthought after the ‘serious’ disciplines like English, maths and science are taught.

“But what if the arts were interwoven into the curriculum to create an effective model for teacher education and students learning together?

“We use the arts and humour a lot in teaching. If the arts was at the centre of the curriculum, students would be more engaged and the learning deeper and more meaningful.”

Sue, who has a Bachelor of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium, is currently working in a classroom with another teacher combining their experiences and expertise.

Arts as language

“We’re using the arts as the home language of the classroom,’’ she said.

“Because language isn’t just words, it’s any symbolic system with meaning.

“So students can increase their arts skills and use the arts to unpack other learning.”

Sue uses acting and music skills to teach her students about maths and science.

“I teach kilometres dressed as ‘Dead Rat the Bikie’ and latitude and longitude by following the frets and strings on a ukulele.

“We filmed a parliamentary session where students became the Minister for Sausage Rolls or the Member for Splat. Students from diverse cultures in a low socio-economic area are engaged in learning!”

During the three minute challenge, each contestant explains the impact of their research in a way that is interesting and engaging to a non-specialist audience.

Sue hopes her research will effect policy changes so arts immersion is fully incorporated into the school curriculum.

“By increasing the quality of learning, we can overcome the pressure of an over-crowded curriculum. Twenty-four fragmented tasks become three rich tasks.”

Sue will represent Griffith at the Asia Pacific finals at the University of Queensland on September 30.