With the monies I received from the Target Arts, Culture & Design in Schools Grant I purchased 5 iPads for my Art classroom to teach digital art. One of the lessons that I taught was how to make stop motion videos. The students loved this project. Since there are only 5 iPads and approximately 30 students in each classroom, they obviously have to work collaboratively on the project. I was concerned as to how different ability levels and personalities would work together and be creative. One of my favorite videos was produced by a group that consisted of two non-verbal students. It was amazing to watch how the other students in the group worked with them and help them communicate what and how they wanted to add to the project. They were extremely patient and sincerely concerned about how the learning support students wanted to express their creativity. This was a true success in digital art in the art room, but more importantly, in life skills for all.
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.
Our current trend in education is geared toward STEM thinking; science, technology, engineering, and math. The United States recognizes the need for higher level thinking skills in order to stay competitive among its allies, which is a positive step in the right direction. But, do they recognize the correlation between these skills and the arts? Politicians and government agencies that support education need to understand the value of right brain thinking and make financial commitments as well as mandates for their support of the arts. Right brain thought processes need to be honed in order for this type of thinking to have a permanent impact upon our society as a whole. Visit these sites to find out more about STEAM education, make ART a vital part of your schools’ curriculum.
- STEM to STEAM http://stemtosteam.org/
- Technology in the Arts http://www.technologyinthearts.org/
- Remake Learning http://remakelearning.org/
- Adobe Education http://www.adobe.com/education.html?marketSegment=EDU&showEduReq=no
- STEAM Connect http://steamconnect.org/
Charles Vest, National Academy of Engineering President and former MIT President states, “I cannot imagin MIT without it’s visual arts component, it would not be MIT and we would not attract those kinds of kinds. Any of the really good high schools that are succeeding….the integration of Arts into their curriculum is very important part. The maker movement attracts kids from left brain and right brain and everything in between. I’m a big believer in the STEAM movement-we are failing in our core STEM areas.”