Arts Integrated Learning
Arts integrated learning is defined as an approach to education that employs the use of the fine arts, both visual and performing, as a primary path to education in main subjects, such as science, English, and mathematics – and, in turn, uses these subjects to enhance learning of the arts. Not all forms of arts in the classroom can necessarily be referred to as art integration. Arts education, in the traditional sense, is art class. Students gather together with an art, music, or dance teacher whose primary purpose in the school is to teach lessons focused on the arts, separate from the aforementioned major subjects. In this case, art is the curriculum and it is viewed as supplementary to the core subjects.
Many teachers have been enhancing their curricula with the arts for years. Arts enhancement, while valuable, is also distinct from arts integration. Arts enhancement creates scenarios where students can, for example, listen to music from the geographical location that they are learning about while they work on social studies projects, or illustrate a story that they are writing in English class. Arts enhancement is a useful tool for educators but, again, is not the same as arts integration.
Arts integration ideally does the work of seamlessly tying together traditional classroom instruction and art instruction. According to Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), “it is essential that arts instruction integrate with academic instruction.” This organization believes that art education and traditional classroom education belong together, because by “teaching the skills necessary to make a work of art … the art making becomes a richer experience by exploring complex, challenging non-arts subjects.”
When art making and classroom education are integrated, both are given equal importance. CAPE asserts that teaching children about art-making techniques and theories can and will actually enhance their knowledge of core subjects, giving them the language and analytical skills to approach their academic work from new creative angles. CAPE also believes that “art made from an integrated curriculum is more compelling” because the academic and artistic schoolwork are constantly in dialogue with each other.
One of the most important parts of an arts integrated curriculum is the sheer enjoyment of it. Study after study has proven that kids are more willing to learn when their interest in the subject is greater and they retain more knowledge when they are actually having fun in school. When students are learning, for example, math through dance, or history through writing and performing a play, they face new challenges. Young people have to think hard, work together and individually in new ways, and think out of the box.
For more information explore the following sources about arts integrated learning: