Do you teach art for art’s sake?
This is a difficult question for me to answer. I have worked with art colleagues previously that felt I was “sacrificing” art for integration. I took their opinion very personally until I started to examine what I teach and why I teach it. I do integrate many of my lessons. Years ago, in the time of dinosaurs, I was trained to teach this way. My art education classes we taught to include all of the disciplines. Of course, this was before outcomes and mainstreaming as well as No Child Left Behind.
Not all of my lessons are integrated, many are “art for art’s sake” but I feel there is an intrinsic value to those that combine disciplines and are cross-curricular. When I integrate lessons the objectives and essential question are always based upon my art curriculum. If I choose to incorporate language arts or science, does that make the lesson bad and sacrifice the art? I find that hard to accept. I choose to make my lessons engaging and hopefully something that my students will enjoy. Through that process I can guarantee that they will remember either something from art….. language arts…..or science….maybe all three.
In a recent article in the ASCD, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Willona Sloan states, “….arts education advocates argue that while teaching art for art’s sake is certainly beneficial for all students, studies also show that participating in the arts can actually boost student achievement in other academic areas.” It doesn’t matter whether the lesson is art for art’s sake or a cross-curricular lesson, if it is not interesting I will lose student’s interest and the lesson will not be successful.
Inducing art into STEAM and/or Common Core may be a way to save the arts. It also may be a way to validate the arts as an essential part of learning and creativity. Either way, I feel it’s a win-win situation.
One of my favorite lessons is teaching my 6th grade students how to create a landscape silhouette. The students love this lesson because for many it is their first opportunity to use X-acto knives. I love it because of the book we read at the beginning of the lesson.
by Peggy Bathmann and Kara Walker is a delightful children’s book done completely in silhouettes. Students love looking at the pictures and trying to find the most mischievous baby. It is an excellent resource for teaching positive/negative space as well as silhouette drawing and cutting.
Children’s literature can lead to many fascinating art projects. Don’t be afraid to read aloud to your students. No one is too old to enjoy a good picture book.
After taking nine months off for a sabbatical to recharge my batteries, I find myself in a conundrum of wondering, “What do I do?”, “Where do I begin?” and “How do I instill all my new found knowledge into my teaching?” this fall. I’ve spent the past school year in a much needed respite from the classroom. Instead I have been refueling my intellect with classes in Technology, Creativity, Common Core Standards, as well as STEM initiatives.
This road to discovery has been full as well as fulfilling. I’ve embarked on a technological journey of learning that was rigorous as well as enlightening. I am now able to communicate with students of the 21st century through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogging. And I’ve delved into the recesses of right/left brain thinking, advocacy of the arts, and blogging for educators.
Today educators are required to take students through school to become innovative and creative individuals of the 21st century. My concern has been if I would be able to lead them effectively on this new path of discovery. Do I know enough about technology, do I understand the Common Core; am I meeting the STEM outcomes?
The lingo is new, the timing is pertinent, and the students are young and savvy. Has education really changed so much that I have forgotten how to teach the pupils of today? Merriam Webster defines a student as an attentive and systematic learner. They are children who are inquisitive and explorative in nature that want to play and create. They work to achieve goals and praise that builds confidence to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Yes, the buzz words may have changed and some techniques may be different. This is a phenomenon that has happened throughout the history of education – it is ever-changing. But the process is the same. Therefore, my mission is the same. Whether it is through Twitter, You Tube, or the latest STEM initiative I will continue to do my job…..to instill the love of learning.