Teacher Interview


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The purpose of this interview was to research, collect data and analyze results of educators' thoughts and perspectives of art within the classroom and curriculum. Overall, integration of arts within the curriculum has been extremely difficult for teachers.

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Teacher Interview

  1. 1. Blair Thallmayer Apprentice 2- Cohort 2 October 15, 2007 Dr. Narey Teacher Interview Assignment
  2. 2. With the “No Child Left Behind” act in full swing, more emphasis is being placed on the reading, writing, and math aspects of education. After all, these are the three areas being evaluated on standardized tests, and so much more funding has been provided to boost knowledge and scores. Instead of adding more overall funding, these tested areas are being given extra money from other subjects. These subjects, such as music and art, are struggling to remain relevant in a growing educational system that does not seem to want them there. With time and money slowly fading away in these subjects, I spoke to an art teacher (K-2), and a host teacher (general education) to get their thoughts on how art should be integrated into the curriculum. According to the art teacher, it is very difficult to integrate arts in the curriculum in her school building/district. “I only have thirty-five minutes with the kids, every six days. It gives us no time and due to the length of certain projects, the timeframe does not allow us to complete while the topic of the project is relevant.” Her issue with the time mainly deals with themes like holidays. Since students have so little time to complete projects, a Halloween art project might not be done until halfway into November, when everyone has forgotten about the holiday. This also makes it just about impossible to plan activities yearly, due to never knowing when projects will be finished or when significant events may call for art. She attributes the “No Child Less Behind” act, and less funding, to be the major causes of this problem. The lack of funding makes it harder to hire more art teachers, so everyone has the same teacher, meaning the lessons/projects have to be broad instead of
  3. 3. specialized, and it has been very difficult to teach generalized art with thirty-five minutes every six days. The lack of time comes into play more prominently when it comes to activities like field trips. Students should be able to go to art museums, like the one in Allentown, or to the Crayola Factory, but with the time constraints previously listed, trips like this seem less and less likely by the day. With all of these negatives, one might ask why even bother with an art program? The answer lies with the students, especially those with special needs or in special education. “Art is a great way, especially for special needs students, for students to express themselves in ways they otherwise could not, and to shine. This might be their only real school success.” When asked about how she would like to see art integrated into the curriculum, she provided her own strategies for teaching, as well as how general education classes can incorporate art. “Examples of integration would be using tessellations or examining the shapes in quilt patterns during second grade math class. In kindergarten, bird feeders could be built or examining bird seed, for science. In a first grade math class, collages can be shown to find the proportion of pictures to the table.” Overall, she feels that more time, even if only a ten-minute increase each week, will help increase the integration of art into the curriculum and make it feel like a relevant
  4. 4. subject. There is more to learn in art than just drawing and depriving students of this fun learning environment will only hinder their education by restricting how they express themselves. The general education host teacher agreed with most, if not all of these points. She feels that some students are able to understand information and lessons better through art than by other means. She did acknowledge, though, that there is not a lot of time to integrate art into her lessons, and that when she can, it is more crafts than arts. When asked about her attempts to integrate art, she said – “It’s more crafts than art, but we do painting and coloring at times, and also during shared reading, we sometimes use puppets. We also work with maps and globes and drawing.” Both teachers agreed that social studies and science are the subjects where art integration would be easiest, due to the experiments and topics presented in each, but when asked about where general education teachers get the funding for art-integration, the host teacher merely pointed at her pockets. She also never gets to collaborate with the art specialists on projects and only has time to schedule art lessons every two months, depending on the holiday. She attributed this lack of time to the “No Child Left Behind” act. “It definitely has to do with “No Child Left Behind.” More focus is placed on math, reading, and the other testing areas, and because of this there is less time and money for subjects like art.” It seems that both teachers are in full agreement about the necessity to integrate arts more fully into the curriculum. It might be a bit much to think about now, but if art
  5. 5. programs all across the country are eliminated, we will find ourselves in a world some day without music, movies, or paintings. Integrating the arts into the curriculum will promote children’s visual language development. Art is a language and, like other languages, consists of basic elements and an organizing structure. In addition, humans use art to inform, express, narrate, and persuade. Art integration can be a medium for studying other content areas. By doing so, the range of student responses will expand and the outcome will increase abilities to retain information. As an educator, I can integrate art by developing appropriate practice into math, science, social studies, and language arts. The best means to do this involve interweaving artwork in lessons, using visual tools, recording ideals graphically, and/or creating an aesthetic learning place. By integrating art, students will be able to learn through artistic expression and respond to subjects using the language of art. Integrating art will help students make connections to their experiences and allow them to direct knowledge in artistic forms. Integrating the arts could become very difficult if the laws of “No Child Left Behind” do not change. If the laws continue, I, as an educator could collaborate with the art specialist teacher of the building. After collaboration, if the funds are not present, I could organize a committee within the school and/or district to fundraise and acquiring funding for art integration programs. Parental involvement could also become very beneficial.