FEBRUARY, 2019: It is not either enhancement or integration. It is both/and.

The Kennedy Center, a leader in arts integration professional development for teachers, asserts that the arts exist in schools in three dynamic ways: arts as curriculum, arts-enhanced curriculum, and arts-integrated curriculum. Arts as curriculum is specific to arts specialists while both arts enhancement and arts integration are classroom teacher-focused.

When the arts act as the curriculum, arts teachers or specialists who are certified to teach dance, theatre, music, and/or visual art teach students the elements and principles of the art form during “ancillary” time or “specials.” Arts-enhanced curriculum, sometimes referred to as subservient integration (Bresler, 1995) is a way of enlivening classroom learning with the arts. Teachers who ask students to draw a picture to accompany writing or encourage movement during “brain breaks” are engaged in arts-enhancement. Arts-integrated curriculum is defined in recent literature as follows:

  • “An approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both” (Silverstein & Layne, 2010, p. 1).
  • “Teaching and learning in which arts learning and other academic learning areas are connected in ways in which the arts learning AND the other academic learning are both deepened” (Aprill, 2010, p. 7).
  • “In essence, integrating the arts means that we are combining at least one other subject (e.g., math, science, social studies) with an arts subject (e.g. music, art, dance) to create a consolidated curriculum where both subject areas receive equal priority as a blended unit” (May, 2013, p. 5).
  • “An instructional approach used by teachers to work collaboratively to teach the content and processes of two or more subject areas, including one or more arts areas, and to increase the ability of students to identify, create, and apply authentic learning connections” (Richard & Treichel, 2013, p. 224).
  •  “Arts integration teaches core academic content through the use of multiple art forms, such as drama, visual arts, music, and dance.” (Biscoe & Wilson, 2015, p. 3).

From these definitions, we can surmise that for true arts integration to occur, teachers must thoughtfully pair a core curricular concept with an arts-based curricular concept. Not all teachers have access to arts-based professional development or preservice training. Without prior content knowledge and pedagogy in the artistic disciplines, classroom arts integration can end up falling flat.

It is important for schools to embrace a both/and approach to enhancement and integration instead of an either/or approach. Not every lesson lends itself naturally to integration…sometimes you just have to teach math as it is scripted in the state-adopted curriculum! Enhance the math lesson by allowing students to write a short jingle to remember an equation. Time and teacher self-efficacy permitting, a teacher can fully integrate the math lesson with a piece of visual art which conveys the equation through the visual art element of shape.

Works Referenced:

Aprill, A. (2010). Direct instruction vs. arts integration: A false dichotomy. Teaching Artist Journal, 8(1), 6-15.

Biscoe, B., & Wilson, K. (2015). Arts integration: A strategy to improve teaching and learning, promote personal competencies, and turn around low-performing schools. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

Bresler, L. (1995). The subservient, co-equal, affective, and social integration styles and their implications for the arts. Arts Education Policy Review, 96(5), 31-37.

May, B. N. (2013). Arts integration: What’s the problem? General Music Today, 26(2), 5-8.

Richard, B., & Treichel, C. J. (2013). Increasing secondary teachers’ capacity to integrate the arts. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 86(6), 224-228.

Silverstein, L. B., & Layne, S. (2010). Defining arts integration. Washington DC: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

JANUARY, 2019:  Arts Vs. Remediation 

Among the many issues facing arts educators at the PreK-12 level is the prioritization of the high-stakes tests subjects including English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. Arts educators are often required to remediate students in these subject areas during their planning periods.

Planning and preparation periods are essential for all teachers, particularly arts educators. Building scenery, cleaning paint brushes, tuning instruments, and reattaching taps to tap shoes are just a few of the many tasks arts teachers undertake during this precious time. Some school administrators even expect arts specialists to be able to integrate ELA and math into their arts curriculum (Beveridge, 2010; Mishook & Kornhaber, 2006).

We need to look critically at this model. Is it truly beneficial or detrimental to both the arts educator and the student? An arts specialist may lack math and English training and pedagogy. These not be the ideal individuals to aid students struggling to grasp key concepts in the high-stakes disciplines.

More on the Importance of Administrative Support for the Arts…

Bellisario, K., & Donovan, L. (2012). Voices from the field: Teachers’ views on the relevance of arts integration. Cambridge, MA: Lesley University.

de Vries, P. (2017). Self-efficacy and music teaching: Five narratives. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 18(4), 1-23.

Garvis, S., & Pendergast, D. (2010). Supporting novice teachers of the arts. International Journal of Education and the Arts, 11(8), 1-22.

Purnell, P. (2004). A place for the arts: The past, the present and teacher perceptions. Teaching Artist Journal, 2(3), 153-161.

Saraniero, P., Goldberg, M. R., & Hall, B. (2014). “Unlocking my creativity”: Teacher learning in arts integration professional development. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 10(1), 1-22.

Van Eman, L., Thorman, J., Montgomery, D., & Otto, S. (2008). The balancing act: Arts integration and high-stakes testing. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 4(1), 1-32.

Other Works Referenced:

Beveridge, T. (2010). No child left behind and fine arts classes. Arts Education Policy Review, 111(1), 4-7.

Mishook, J. J., & Kornhaber, M. L. (2006). Arts integration in an era of accountability. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(4), 3-11.

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