By carefully aligning core subject lessons with arts standards, all teachers can reach and inspire students. Conversely, arts teachers can reinforce knowledge in core disciplines by finding and reinforcing the n naturally existing connections between all areas of study. Teachers in all disciplines can benefit from arts integration, but they can’t let common misconceptions hold them back. Here’s how I make the case for non-arts teachers:
Common Misconceptions about Arts Integration
#1: The arts and core subject areas such as math, science, and social studies are best taught separately.
Fact: Throughout history, the arts have been an integral part of all disciplines; the separation has been made artificial. Teachers across all disciplines have reinforced learning through the arts for generations, and we need to return to doing interdisciplinary projects because they worked. Students love interdisciplinary projects, and because they are having fun, they learn more and retain more of what they learn.
#2: Integrating the arts into a common core lesson will waste time and decrease the rigor of the lesson.
Fact: By involving students in art production, teachers encourage whole brain learning, higher-order thinking, creative problem-solving, teamwork, active learning, and student engagement. Students learn best when they are having fun! Teachers who use project-based learning are also more likely to have fewer discipline issues.
#3: It isn’t necessary to integrate art with other subjects at all.
Fact: Historically, the arts were not separate from other subjects. At is an integral part of whole brain learning, and an art educator can help classroom teachers to incorporate art production into just about any unit of study.
#4: That’s all very well for kids who are already doing well academically. My students are struggling and need to focus on drilling in the basic skills from other subject areas.
Fact: Students involved in the arts score an average of 100 points higher on the SATs than students who do not have access to arts education. Denying students access to the creative and performing arts means denying them access to opportunities to develop basic skills necessary to succeed in the modern world.
Giving struggling students access to positive outlets for creative expression will also lead to greater engagement and motivation. If a student feels self-confident in one academic discipline, that confidence will inspire them to work harder in other content areas.
#5: It’s too overwhelming and I have so much on my plate already. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Fact: The first place to look is in your lesson plan book. You are probably already doing arts integration without even knowing it. In order to meet the National Core Art Standards, students in your classroom must engage in Creating, Conceiving, and Developing new artistic ideas and work; Presenting, Interpreting, and Sharing artistic work; Responding, Understanding, and Evaluating how art conveys meaning; and Connecting and Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. The most effective classroom teachers, like you, are alrady integrating the arts into their curriculums to increase student engagement and deepen understanding.
Rachel Wintemberg is an art teacher at Samuel E. Shull Middle School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and author of the blog, The Helpful Art Teacher. Rachelhw1966@gmail.com
Reprinted with permission from SchoolArts Magazine. Visit their website: www.schoolartsdigital.com