Arts Integration across Classrooms—Initiatives for College Students

Today’s guest post equips us with some great lines of advocacy for arts integration in general as well as a trend in colleges where art students are encouraged to work towards an education degree.  As always, we would love to hear your take on this! ~EMP

As STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives are making major national headlines throughout the nation, more and more interest is being put on the sciences in primary education and among young girls. Of course, there’s no question that science education and STEM initiatives are an important aspect of primary education. However, these initiatives have also opened up debate on the importance for arts integration in the schools. For some time now, the arts and the sciences have been endlessly contrasted. The way that our society’s interests seem to picture them is as enemies in the classroom—one cannot focus on both STEM integration as well as art integration. Of course, this isn’t the case at all. Arts integration is instruction that integrates content and skills from art such as dance, music, theater, and the visual arts, with other core subjects. Students can learn about biology or algebra through the use of content and some form of arts.

Arts integration in the classroom has been hugely lacking in the past several years as teachers are forced to focus more carefully on teaching for standardized testing and meeting national requirements. On top of these constraints, many teachers who are not art savvy and do not have experience with the arts in some form or another can find it challenging to integrate art practices into their curriculum. Arts integration occurs when there is a seamless blending of content and skills between an art form and a co-curricular subject. Obviously, this can be challenging to accomplish.

Why Arts Integration is Important

Using interactive and imaginative art projects to teach class materials helps to effectively engage and motivate students. Students can engage and interact with the material they are learning in a new and fascinating way. Art education and integration supports academic achievement while also enhancing the school climate and improving social behavior. Creativity is one skill that schools and teachers are fighting to develop in their classrooms. Fostering this creative drive alongside traditional learning materials and strategies is key. When performed properly, arts integration in the classroom can really bring a lesson, subject, classroom, and school alive. Students and teachers alike explore their imaginations and creative capacities to learn new material and realize new information.

Facilitating Arts Integration—With Some Help

Many undergraduate and graduate programs in teaching offer strategies for incorporating the arts into the classroom. Some universities are trying an arts integration program that brings together college art students and college teaching students. These programs combine the education program with an art degree or art minor, encouraging current art students to pursue a career in teaching outside of solely the art realm. Students who are a part of this program would volunteer in elementary, middle, and high schools to promote the study and practice of art. They would also work with current teachers in a shadowing program so that the students can gain valuable in-classroom experience and the teachers can utilize the students’ expert art knowledge to facilitate stronger arts integration.

While this program has not taken off at all universities across the nation, many schools at the primary and secondary level are seeing the benefit of combining the art major or minor with an education focus. Programs that utilize the college youth who are passionate about art and looking for a meaningful career path, like this one, do a wonderful job of demonstrating the value of arts education and creating a platform where arts education is a logical step. Teachers looking to integrate more art into their curriculum, but are wary about their own artistic skills and vision can look to their local universities and colleges to enlist the help of college art students. Arts integration is a wonderful way to re-invigorate a classroom and help inspire both student and instructor.

Byline: Kate Willson is a blogger and freelance writer for collegecrunch.org. She is passionate about all things education and is particularly interested in life after college in today’s society. You can reach Kate in the comments below.

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One Comments

  1. This post speaks to me! I was not an art major, but I was a music major along with my elementary ed major in college. So many peers and professors questioned my second major in music, but I trusted my gut. I knew I wanted to teach, but also wanted to continue learning all I could about music. There was no interest in becoming a performance major and, although I did teach music for 7 years, I didn’t study for that specifically.

    It was the best thing I could have done for myself as an ed major. It allowed me to explore venues for teaching, including arts integration which after years of teaching and professional work has led up to this website, 2 print books, several ebooks and consultant work.

    I encourage students of any art form to consider how they can use their talents for the of education and arts integration.

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