Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum

I am in a methods class right now that is completely devoted to teaching us how to integrate the arts into our curriculum. I have had an art class and a music class in the past that was pretty useful towards this, but having read a bit of the textbook required for this class, I am finding that I had been thinking about it all wrong the entire time. I thought that by having the kids listen to music while they worked on math, giving them a lot of art projects, and reading books about artists, that I would be incorporating the arts. Not only is there so much more that a teacher can do, but integrating the arts has much more meaning behind it than “it’s a fun way for kids to learn.”

The book I’m reading now is called “Creating Meaning through Literature and the Arts: Arts Integration for Classroom Teachers, By Claudia E. Cornett.

I love the arts and have found ways to integrate them into my every day life, so I am excited to learn more about ways in which to integrate the arts into my classroom as well.

I've always believed that artists and teachers have a lot in common, and that teachers are, in a way, artists. Teachers like artists, have a unique way of thinking and must come up with creative and engaging ways to get the ideas they are passionate about across to others.

Art integration, as I understand it, is a fantastic way to do this. By weaving literature, dance, drama, art, and music into the lessons that are taught, students are not only engaged, but they are taught to think, learn, and express their ideas in a variety of different ways.

I took some time to read more about some of the schools that are known for integrating the art in their classrooms. I was incredibly inspired by Lady Island Elementary School in Beaufort, South Carolina. The entire site was full of pictures of children being engaged in both learning and the arts simultaneously. This is in comparison to the websites of the schools I have visited or taught in where the majority of pictures displayed are of children sitting as their desks writing, or being read to. Having been involved in state competitions that involved the arts, by seeing the pictures of the children at Lady Island, I am reminded of the feeling I had at those artistic events. I felt completely engaged, cultured, and enlivened. Each day I was there I was inspired by the collaboration and creativity around me. Being at those events have been some of the most incredible experiences of my life  simply because of the feelings they invoked in me. Lady Island is such an incredible school because by integrating the arts into their classrooms, children are able to experience those feelings each day while learning in the most engaging ways possible.

I was especially inspired by their rationale for integrating the arts into their classrooms. I've taken it from their website and posted it here:

“The Visual Arts stimulates and develops children's creative thinking and problem solving abilities. These are skills that are required to participate in today's society and economy.

The Visual Arts empower young minds to notice what there is to be noticed (Green,1984). Art develops a conscious awareness and curiosity about the world around us. Being able to "see" rather than "look" is being able to notice the rhythms, patterns, and colors in our environment. 

Pablo Picasso once said "every child is an artist the problem is how to remain one as an adult." Picasso spent his adult life trying to become childlike in his art because that is where true creativity lies.

Therefore, we are doing our children an injustice if we do not provide for their artistic potential.”