Earlier this week, Katherine Damkohler wrote a post for the ARTSblog website called Arts Integration Isn’t Enough. (This blog is no longer available, so I can’t share the link.)
It reminded me of a piece I wrote a few weeks back on ArtsEd VS ArtsInt. In it, I felt the need to not only define each, but to set the record straight about how one cannot replace the other. This is a topic about which I feel strongly.
In Katherine’s post, she quite frankly and respectfully states and defends her point that arts integration cannot replace arts education.
I have seen too many schools refrain from hiring an arts teacher because they have been lulled into thinking that training a classroom teacher to integrate the arts into their lessons serves as an acceptable substitute for bringing a full-time arts instructor on staff.
Sending classroom teachers to summer arts integration institutes or having them work alongside a local professional artist is a wonderful way to provide professional development to teachers. However, these programs alone do not qualify classroom teachers to be the primary arts instructors for their students.
This may seem harsh, but it’s true!
With arts integration, our goal should never be to replace a student’s education in an art form, but to deepen their understanding of curriculum in various content areas, including those in the arts. Arts int helps students to process information, helps it to come alive for them, helps it to stick by catering to their creativity and multiple intelligences.
Teachers who want to explore arts integration further should be encouraged to attend professional development that instructs them on the creative process as a learning process, to attend workshops and courses where they are able to dig deep into their own creativity and learn how to empower their students to do the same to help them learn. (Get inspired to be inspiring!) And they should be encouraged to do so without the fear that they are being expected to teach the arts.
That’s where many teachers find the road block, when they think that arts integration means they have to have a huge knowledge base of varying art forms before they introduce it to their students. Katherine’s piece should then be a sigh of relief.
The arts are not learned through osmosis. It takes years to master an art form. Learning how to read music, play an instrument, perform dance, or create theatre takes both discipline and skill.
No one expects an arts integration teacher to be an expert in the arts. Our job then becomes that of coaching and inspiring.