Integration, in general, is an approach to education that creates a level of personal connection and added depth in the classroom through a creative inquiry-based process of teaching and learning.
Arts integration is an approach to teaching that uses the fine and performing arts (visual arts, drama, music, dance, and digital arts) as primary pathways to learning. Emphasis is on the seamless blending of the content and learning skills of an art form with those of a co-curricular subject as it utilizes the inclusion of both an arts discipline and a traditional subject as part of learning. Some major components of arts integration are:
- An art form plays a major role in helping students address broad curriculum themes.
- Acknowledges and fosters multiple intelligences.
- Is standards-based and requires standards-based assessment that addresses the arts along with the content subject.
- Applies methodology and language from complimentary subjects, including the arts, to examine a central theme, issue, problem, topic, or experience.
- Engages all students in active learning, providing a forum for them to create, perform, and respond artistically in core subject areas.
- Ranges from a single lesson to an entire curricula framework.
- Involves community resources in and out of school. Collaboration between and among teachers and arts specialists is essential.
The goal of integrating the arts is to increase knowledge of a general subject while fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the fine and performing arts. The integration of the arts does not change what we are teaching, but our approach to teaching. Why integrate the arts?
- The arts reach students not ordinarily reached, with methods not ordinarily used.
- Students connect to one another better and experience greater camaraderie and less prejudice when the arts are central to their learning. The arts improve communication skills, social growth and the ability to work with others.
- Arts education requires an environment of discovery that can rekindle the love of learning in students who are tired of being filled up with facts.
- The arts provide challenges for students at all levels, from delayed to gifted. In the arts, all students can find their own level of performance.
- The arts connect learners to the world of real work in which theatre, music, visual arts and dance appeal to a growing consumer public. Enables students to apply content and skills to their daily lives.
- Through the connection of personal experiences with the subject matter, and an emphasis on the process of discovery, which allows for unexpected outcomes, students develop more complex, critical thinking skills.
- The arts connect visualization with reading comprehension, contextualizes math, or brings an experiential context to the science or social studies classroom.
- Focus and concentration can be developed through an appreciation and application of different learning styles, such as linguistic, visual or kinesthetic thinking. Cultivates multiple intelligences.
- The arts increase comprehension and retention of material and information by connecting to different parts of students’ brains.
- Encourages authentic connections that involve creating purposeful links between the creative process and/or art form with elements of the subject area that lead to a deeper understanding of both the art form and the subject area.
- Fosters independent and critical problem solving skills.
- Develops imagination, creativity and aesthetic awareness. Provides access to the power of individual expression and allows students to apply their knowledge of other, more academic subjects, in creative ways.
- Requires students to reflect on their learning experiences.
- Creates knowledge of self, increases confidence and self-esteem and provides a safe environment for healthy release of emotions.
- Integrating the arts educates the whole child and aids in discovering new talents and interests.