About Arts Integration: The Kennedy Center's Perspective
WHAT IS ARTS INTEGRATION?
Wilson Arts Integration Elementary is proud to be a part of the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program. We believe that arts integration is an important but misunderstood and often misrepresented form of education. It goes far beyond traditional arts education. The Kennedy Center’s definition is:
Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.
APPROACH TO TEACHING
Arts Integration is a way of life at Wilson. It is not an activity that is reserved for arts classes or something that a teacher may do once a week or once a month. It is a dedication to a philosophy of teaching that relies on providing students with concrete experiences to connect their understanding.
“When well planned and implemented, arts integration is one of the most effective ways for a wide range of students with a wide range of interests, aptitudes, styles, and experiences to form a community of active learners taking responsibility for and ownership of their own learning.”
Renaissance in the Classroom pg. 26
CONSTRUCT AND DEMONSTRATE UNDERSTANDING THROUGH AN ART FORM
The information age has changed the rules. Gone are the days of a teacher standing in front of the class and dispensing information. Information can be gained in a variety of formats from almost anyplace on the planet. But how we use the information to create meaning is the key. The 21st century worker must be able to work in groups, construct meaning and demonstrate alternative solutions. These are the very skills taught by the arts.
A popular misconception is that arts integration only prepares students for success in the arts. While students are prepared for success in the arts, they are not limited. We would never think that a science class is only for students who intend to become scientists. In the same way, we understand that arts classes teach important skills that are necessary for all students.
Arts Integration students create and construct meaning. They are prepared to analyze, make connections, find patterns, work in groups and make decisions where it seems that none are possible.
Other benefits include curricular achievement through inquiry, divergent thinking and creativity; thus developing an appreciation for the arts as they relate to critical thinking skills and experiences. They learn about problem solving, use thinking skills and learn more in depth about each particular art form. They make connections between real life, the curriculum and the arts.
Arts Integration finds a natural connection between the curriculum and the art form. The teacher teaches both the arts objective and the curriculum objective side by side enabling students to make connections between them and the real world.
Arts integration is a seamless blending of the content and skills of an art form with those of a co-curricular subject. Most of us have the experience of working on an art project for school that adds to our understanding of a concept. But the art could easily be removed with little or no impact on the curricular objective. In arts integration, the skills and objectives are blended in a way that makes it impossible to separate the two. Students are able to understand the concept of verbs, not simply because they have worked on worksheets and answered questions in books, but because they have experiences with verbs. For example, students understand that actors and dancers need verbs to create movement and actions. They understand through experience that adverbs tell us how we will move through space.
“Arts integration is highly effective in engaging and motivating students. It supports the academic achievement and improved social behavior of students while enhancing school climate and parental involvement.” Artseveryday.org
EVOLVING OBJECTIVES IN BOTH
Our state mandated objectives remain the core of our focus. But an arts integrated format understands that these objectives mark the beginning of learning, not its end. Objectives are established and assessed in both the art form and the other subject area, and the students’ understanding of the content progresses over time. The arts require us to deepen our understanding and mastery of subject. Just as a musician may work on a single piece of music for years in an ongoing attempt to refine their skills, a student will continue to work and refine their understanding of objectives. Those objectives may be understood, but the process allows the student to test, refine, apply and naturally deepen their comprehension.
“It enlivens the teaching and learning experience for entire school communities. At its best, arts integration is transformative for students, teachers, and communities. The imaginations and creative capacities of teachers and students are nurtured and their aspirations afforded many avenues for realization and recognition.” Artseveryday.org