Assigned Reading: Artful Teaching Introduction and Studio Habits of Mind
These readings gives great introductions and leeway into the idea of “Arts Integration”. The Artful Teaching Introduction shows how one could use this book, in his or her future classroom to promote art integration in the general education setting. It discusses just what art integration can be categorized as and how it is beneficial to students and teachers. Art integration forces questions to be asked. These questions are prominent to educators in settings from kindergarten through middle school. This reading highlights on the fact that prescribed curriculum and standardized testing would normally want to steer teachers away from raising questions and reflecting, but art integration allows for the nature of these questions to change. These questions do not have only one “right” answer, instead they open the doors for discussion amongst students.
So, why integrate the arts?
The meaning of art can vary depending on who you ask. In addition to being valuable in their own right, the arts are seen as fostering improved learning in other subject areas. They also further students’ cognitive abilities by promoting creative self-expression, transformed consciousnesses and imagination and further understanding. Therefore, integrating art into everyday learning will only further a child’s academic development. The “Studio Habits of Mind” Article argues why art should be not only be kept in the school system but integrated into it. This article has one main argument: art makes you smarter.
While the correlation between the presence of arts in school and improved test scores is unfounded, meaning correlation isn’t causation, there are still very good reasons to teach arts in the schools. Art programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the curriculum and art education is becoming more important as it’s ideas have been more prominent in standardized testing.
An aspect of the “Artful Teaching Introduction” reading that I found to be extremely important were the questions, developed by art teacher Todd Elkin, that highlight the valuable parts of teaching with the arts (Artful Teaching, pg. 6). Below I have made a list of the questions I found to be the most important so that I may reference this later in my classroom:
- How can I work through this problem or idea using art? This question pushes students to develop the perseverance of an artist and the discipline required for prolonged thinking and problem solving.
- How can I use art to show the things I learned about this? Asking this question highlights that art not only develops understanding but makes students’ learning visible.
- How can I use art to persuade people that my opinion about this is correct? Students remember that art is powerful, provocative, and potentially world-changing when they consider this question.
- How can I use art to explain this? Students who ask this question understand that art is a way to communicate, illuminate and develop understanding in others.
- How can I use art to brainstorm new ideas? This question reflects our understanding that art helps us envision what we cannot already see and understand what we do not already know.
- How can I use art to show how things are similar or different? Art can help one understand by analogy and through metaphor.
Teachers and students can ask these above questions and others like them to get at important habits of the mind. This reading shows that these types of questions are flexible and engaging by enabling students on quests toward deeper understanding. These questions promote thought processes that can add depth to the work done in classrooms.
Why do these questions matter?
This reading shows that arts integration is a perfect means for raising questions to develop critical thinking, expand perspectives, foster imagination, and bring the student into the classroom by building on existing knowledge and values. These questions matter because they allow for regular curriculum information to be taught in ways that really promote deeper learning.
These two readings, the “Artful Teaching Introduction” and the “Studio Habits of Mind” article have been two of my favorite readings so far because they provided many things I can see myself using as a future educator.