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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Arts Integration!

Arts Integration!

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I believe this group needs a new name to stand along side STEM and Technology Integration! ARTS INTEGRATION! Gale Sheaffer

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KellyAnn Bonnell's picture
KellyAnn Bonnell
Education and Outreach - Arts for Social Change Director

I've always looked at it this way. Arts Education is what is done when the primary learning goal of the experience is a skill related to the science of whatever art form you are using and the secondary goal of the experience is to foster creativity and creative problem solving skills. Arts integration is when the primary learning goal of the experience is to teach another content area and the secondary goal is the creativity and creative problem solving. In both cases the tertiary goals might be to foster the next generation of artist and arts patron. I absolutely agree there is a place or integration dialogue separate from the content specific dialogue however since arts for some reason carry a fear level for traditional educators that requires the arts educator to be the mentor for arts integration experiences, keeping the conversation under the arts heading with a subheading of integration would also make sense.

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Online Editor

Howdy folks,

If you haven't had a chance to read this related post that just went up last week, Visual Art as Critical Thinking, I think you will find it very validating, and a great read!


Ann Gelehrter's picture
Ann Gelehrter
Learning Specialist, Shaker Heights Ohio

I agree with you, Christine, that you do not have to be an artist to explore art with students. I liked your statement,"I view the world with artful thinking." I explore art with students because I can. It involves history, design, math, reading, social studies, etc. EVERYONE should participate in art activities because it is not finite. It promotes individuality and encourages self-expression. I have a multi-age class before school. We read about specific artists and then do extension activities. I am not officially trained as an art teacher, but my students are learning and enjoying the experience.

Heidi Zeigler Twitchell's picture
Heidi Zeigler Twitchell
M.Ed Multicultural Ed & Creativity; Fine Arts & Tech integration advocate.

I find it to be astounding, considering the extensive supporting research, that integral role that the visual and performing arts must play in education continues to be disputed and dangerously underestimated. Research from Harvard Graduate school of education, Johns Hopkins Graduate school of education, UCLA Creativity & Neuroscience and from a plethora of other advanced research teams have concluded with undeniable evidence that when students are given skillful instruction of curricular standards and objectives "with" and "through" the fine arts, performance on (what I feel to be rather meaningless) standardized testing improves. More importantly, students enjoy their studies when they're taught in a school that delivers a comprehensive fine arts curriculum and therefore they learn with depth and breadth, attaining greater understanding and internalization of their studies. Such a comprehensive program cannot be completely described within the reasonable parameters of this comment. To give a cursory look at a strong program, I will say that it entails classroom teachers integrating and infusing their instruction, visiting teaching artists for artists in residencies, fine arts experiences brought to the school by local professionals, experiences external from the school and advanced student involvement in a chosen genre of the visual and / or performing arts. For the record, this is not unobtainable in public schools, providing you have administrative support. I've taught this program in elementary school, and the program still is in tact today- it is, in fact, why we've moved, as my oldest son, my 4th grader, is now privileged to be in the program.

The discussion of teaching the "whole child" must also be brought to light. The aforementioned research teams have concluded in their well-established, published research conclusions that children develop strong character traits that are essential to their success and fulfillment as adults in the 21st century. Perseverance, motivation, cultural perspective, creativity, ingenuity and innovative thought are among these vital traits. Social and emotional health, confidence and moral integrity are also shown to be substantially fostered in students who engage in integrated arts instruction and who also are involved in direct instruction of music, dance, drama and visual arts. The fine arts in education should not be disputed any longer. There are countless organizations advocating for the efforts to ensure that this research based understanding becomes commonly understood and that the fine arts in education become a sustained, expected instructional practice in our perpetually degenerating schools. The efficacy of arts integration and infusion and the necessity thereof is not in question among leading educational committees and progressive, research driven schools of education. Why then, does this issue continue to pervade the integrity of our public school system? It is not an issue of having enough money, folks. It is an issue of prioritization of already distributing funding. There is plenty of money. It simply needs to be used in a responsible manner.

I am working on a thorough blog post on this subject, so I will stop here. Please feel free to contact me should you seek more information, links, etc.

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

All you say is often noted at arts education conferences and is instinctively known by most teachers. The key problem is "bringing to light" these studies to voters, school boards and parents. For many this is a leap of faith. Our President Obama and his Sec of Ed. Arnie Duncan have not really put forward any additional programs or even mentioned teaching the whole child. So the question is, how do we talk to people who do not know this information without a backlash simply attacking teachers unions in order to maintain support for cutting school budgets?

Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

Arts integration is a necessity because many students are denied art classes because they are placed against their will in intervention classes for math and/or reading. High stakes tests are driving the arts out of the schools. Bottom line.

In my school we recently rescheduled students out of art, drama, and other electives if they were not proficient on last year's state assessments. Those students now spend would-be electives time in a computer lab doing remedial math and reading online.

Sure, it's a matter of priorities, but why do we so readily ignore the research showing that the arts help IMPROVE standardized assessment scores?

Katie Rogerson's picture
Katie Rogerson
Marketing & Outreach Director, Arts Integration Solutions

Innovation for classroom success!
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Teachers, school teams, and leadership will learn...
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2. A working knowledge of how various art forms can make the STEM concepts engaging for
students in experimental, project-based teaching practice.
3. Basic knowledge of arts integration, aligning neurological development of children with teaching strategies.

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

This is agreed by all. My suggestion is to write letters to Arnie Duncan at the federal, with copies to your senators and representatives level and your state representatives. This testing model is completely wrong, but was embraced by both political parties, encouraged by testing and textbook companies. We will not change the system unless our voice is heard. Each of us needs to write letters, send e-mails etc.

Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

Less than an hour after I posted the above comment I was informed that there is a chance we will not have an art teacher next year. Apparently, so many of our students are scoring below proficiency that administration is considering replacing the art teacher with a parapro who would supervise a computer lab with online remediation curriculum. There you have it.

The question among core teachers will then be, "Who has time to integrate the arts with so many standards to address (in math, reading, writing, science...)?"

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

I am not surprised. What state are you from?

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