What is Arts Integration?
Arts integration is instruction that integrates content and skills from the arts - dance, music, theatre and the visual arts - with other core subjects. Arts Integration occurs when there is a seamless blending of content and skills between an art form and a co-curricular subject.
In Arts Integration Frameworks, Research & Practice: A Literature Review, Dr. Gail Burnaford includes an historical overview, definitions and theoretical frameworks for arts integration, research and evaluation studies as well as methods and practices for each of the art forms. Dr. Burnaford notes in 2005, the National Middle School Association supported curriculum for students that "is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory."
Integrative learning opportunities include:
- Engage students in rigorous, in-depth study.
- Address reading, writing, and other fundamental skills within all subject areas.
- Enhance critical thinking, decision-making, and creativity.
- Require students to reflect on their learning experiences.
- Enable students to apply content and skills to their daily lives.
- Cultivate multiple intelligences and students' individual learning styles.
Why Arts Integration?
A National Imperative
Over the past two years a number of studies indicate that current educational approaches stifle both students and educators by focusing on a definition of “the basics” that ignores the competencies demanded by the complexities and opportunities of modern life, the skills required to sustain our role as the world leader in innovation, and the values that are the basis of our society.
There is an “imagine nation” at the heart of this public understanding that realizes that building capacities of the imagination rests primarily with an education in and through the arts and that the arts are essential to invigorating the teaching of other fundamental school subjects (www.theimaginenation.net, 2008.)
Learning In and Through the Arts
The arts help students develop the thinking, social, and motivational skills needed for success in school, work and life.
- Arts education develops skills in communication, collaboration, perseverance, and concentration, as well as setting and achieving goals; it fosters individual and collective creativity and enhances understanding of and respect for others.
- The arts have the power to engage children and give them multiple modes of learning. The benefits of the arts are inclusive of all students, although they can be greatest for students who are challenged economically or have special needs.
- Through arts courses, we can help children stay in school and learn a variety of skills and habits they need for life.
- In an era of increasing global competitiveness, which rewards progress and discovery, our economy requires ingenuity and innovation.
- Developing the skills of the imagination provides students with the workforce skills to be innovative and creative—skills essential to a knowledge-based economy.
- Education should not just prepare students for the workforce, it should also help them succeed and be fulfilled in their lives, including being active members of their communities and our democracy.
- Students who develop their imaginations and creative skills will be rewarded throughout their lives and strengthen our community and democracy.
Examples of how Baltimore arts and cultural organizations integrating the arts into the core K-12 curriculum:
The Walters Art Museum's Education department has an online, interactive media section of the website available for educators and students. Their program, Integrating the Arts: Mummies, Manuscripts & Madonnas, uses an interdisciplinary approach to integrating visual art into the core K-12 curriculum disciplines of social studies, science, language arts, and math. Designed for middle school students but applicable to everyone, all activities align with the Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC) of Maryland. The site features works of art from the ancient and medieval collections.
Please send your examples and arts integration success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to include your resources as a guide.