Why to have art in the classroom?


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Why to have art in the classroom?

  1. 1. ==== ====Are you an art lover? Would you like to become one? Nothing to buy, simply enjoy art at:http://www.showoffart.com/==== ====Fine Arts is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as being, “any art form, for example, painting,sculpture, architecture, drawing, or engraving, that is considered to have purely aestheticvalue” (Encarta, 2004). Though this definition is used in relationship with the arts in theregular world, in regards to teaching, fine arts is defined as a subject beneficial, not essential, tothe learning process and is often phased out because of lack of time, little learning potential, andno money. Fine arts is simply seen as painting and drawing, not a subject studied by an academicscholar. Writer Victoria Jacobs explains, “Arts in elementary schools have often beenseparated from the core curriculum and instead, offered as enrichment activities that areconsidered beneficial but not essential” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 2).What is missing in classrooms is the lack of teacher knowledge of the benefits of maintaining anart- based curriculum. Teachers “have very little understanding of the arts as disciplines ofstudy. They think of the arts instruction as teacher-oriented projects used to entertain or teachother disciplines” (Berghoff, 2003, p. 12). Fine arts expand the boundaries of learning forthe students and encourage creative thinking and a deeper understanding of the core subjects,which are language arts, math, science, and social studies. Teachers need to incorporate allgenres of fine arts, which include, theater, visual art, dance, and music, into their lesson plansbecause the arts gives the students motivational tools to unlock a deeper understanding of theireducation. Teaching the arts is the most powerful tool that teachers can present in theirclassrooms because this enables the students to achieve their highest level of learning.From 1977 to 1988 there were only three notable reports demonstrating the benefits of arteducation. These three reports are Coming to Our Senses, by the Arts, Education and AmericansPanal (1977), Can we Rescue the Arts for American Children, sponsored by the American Councilfor the Arts (1988), and the most respected study, Toward Civilization, by the National Endowmentfor the Arts (1988). These three studies conjured that art education was very important inachieving a higher education for our students. While these studies proved the arts to be beneficialto the learning process, it was not until 2002 when the research analysis of Critical Links: Learningin the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development “provided evidence forenhancing learning and achievement as well as positive social outcomes when the arts wereintegral to students’ learning experiences” was taken seriously by lawmakers (Burns,2003, p. 5). One study, in this analysis, was focused on the teaching of keyboard training to aclassroom in order to see if student’s scores on spatial reasoning could be improved. It wasthen compared to those students who received computer training which involved no fine artcomponents. This concluded that learning through the arts did improve the scores on other corecurriculum subjects such as math and science where spatial reasoning is most used (Swan-Hudkins, 2003).This study shows how one little change in the way students are taught through the arts can have a
  2. 2. powerful impact on their learning achievements and understandings. Another study showed at-riskstudents who, for one year, participated in an art- based curriculum raised their standardizedlanguage arts test by an average of eight percentile points, 16 percentile points if enrolled for twoyears. Students not engaging in this form of activity did not show a change of percentile (Swan-Hudkins, 2003). Though this may not seem like a big increase, at- risk students were able to usethis style of learning to better understand their learning style thus bettering their learning patterns.The most interesting case study in this analysis involved the schools of Sampson, North Carolina,where for two years in a row their standardized test scores rose only in the schools thatimplemented the arts education in their school district (Swan-Hudkins, 2003). Teaching the artsneeds to be incorporated in every teachers daily lesson plans because, based on these studies,students who are taught through the arts raise their test and learning levels.Due to the high volume of attention President Bush’s, No Child Left Behind Act, hasrequired in schools, teaching the arts is left behind. Another reason for the lack of arts in theclassroom author Victoria Jacobs explains, “Given the shrinking budgets of school districtsaround the country, art specialists and art programs have disappeared from many elementaryschools” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 4). Fine arts are being seen as non-educational or an extra-curricular activity. Therefore, when there is a lack of money in school districts, this subject is easilybeing cut. Teachers need to find a way to incorporate the arts into the classroom rather than relyon outside activities and Jacobs suggests teaching “through the arts… with a means ofusing the arts successfully and in a way that it is not just “one more thing” they mustinclude in the curriculum” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 4).The arts can open the minds of students in ways mere reading and writing will never be able toaccomplish. Yet, the point of teaching this subject is not to teach about the arts, but to teachthrough the arts. Jacobs explains,Teaching though the arts requires students to engage in the act of creative art. For example theymight draw a picture, write a poem, act in a drama, or compose music to further theirunderstanding of concepts in content areas other than the arts. Teaching through the arts helpsstudents experience concepts rather than simply discussing or reading them. This approach isconsistent with educational theories that highlight the importance of reaching multiple learningstyles or intelligences. (Jacobs, 1999, p. 2)Teaching through the arts can be done in many different ways depending on the teacher’sinterests, but truly is the only way to reinforce the students learning experience. In a time wherebudget cuts and new learning laws are being established, teachers need to be more informed andeducated on the negative impacts of the loss of the fine arts programs.Three, veteran teachers at a public elementary school did a case study which involved teachingthrough the arts. They believed “our students had to experience cycles of inquiry whereinthey learned about the arts and through the arts, and that they needed to see teachers of differentdisciplines collaborate” (Berghoff, 2003, p. 2).The study was based on teaching a history lesson unit on Freedom and Slavery through the arts.Ms. Bixler-Borgmann had her students listen to the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”in many different styles of music, such as an African-American Quartet, Reggae, and Show Tunes.She then incorporated this lesson into the importance singing played to the slaves at that time. Ms.Berghoff had her students read samples of African-American folk literature and write downsentences that made an impact on them while they were reading. She then incorporated those
  3. 3. sentences into group poems. Ms. Parr explored two art pieces entitled, “Swing Low, SweetChariot” and had the students talk about artwork by asking three questions: "What is goingon in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What else can you find?”(Berghoff, 2003). She also had the students focus on the images, concepts, and meanings whichthe artists wanted to depict. Ms. Parr felt this would teach the students how to uncover the hiddenmeanings in other core curriculum subjects (Berghoff, 2003). After the study, the students wereasked what and how they had learned from this style of teaching.Many students wrote in their journals that working in multiple sign systems in parallel waysheightened their emotional involvement. They found themselves thinking about what they werelearning in class when they were at home or at work. They noted that even though they hadstudied slavery at other times, they had never really imagined how it felt to be a slave or thoughtabout the slaves perspectives and struggles. (Berghoff, 2003)The students had learned more from this lesson because they were able to use all styles oflearning and were taught from an angle which is rarely used, through the arts. “Studiesindicate that a successful arts integrated program will use these components to guide studentlearning and assess growth and development (Swan-Hudkins, 2003). The students were able tolearn based on abstract thinking and find the deeper meaning of the lessons prepared by theteachers.“The study of the arts has the potential for providing other benefits traditionally associatedwith arts….arts has been linked to students’ increased critical and creative thinkingskills, self-esteem, willingness to take risks, and ability to work with others” (Jacobs, 1999,p. 4). With these benefits, teachers can not afford to limit their teaching of the arts in theclassroom. Teaching through the arts are the key elements of learning and the traits teachersstrive to establish and reinforce in their students. By working through the arts, instead of about thearts, the students’ educational experience will be achieved in a different way than justteaching the standard style of learning. Former Governor of California, Gray Davis, noted,“Art education helps students develop creativity, self-expression, analytical skills, discipline,cross-cultural understandings, and a heightened appreciation for the arts” and that“students who develop artistic expression and creative problem solving skills are more liketo succeed in school and will be better prepared for the jobs and careers of the future”(California Art Study, 2003, p. 1).Exposing students to abstract learning will teach the students about logic and reasoning and helpthem grasp what might not be represented on the surface. Recent Reports from the National ArtEducation Association (NAEA) confirmed with Governor Davis when they reported“Students in art study score higher on both their Verbal and Math SAT tests than those whoare not enrolled in arts courses (California Art Study, 2003, p. 5). Attached is a copy of the testscores of students in the arts and students with no arts coursework.What is a better way to enhance a lesson plan than to add another dimension of learning than byincorporating different levels of teaching? A company that has the basis of focusing on differentlearning styles is Links for Learning, [http://www.links-for-learning.com]. This companyunderstands the importance of incorporating arts into the classroom. Former Secretary ofEducation, William Bennet wrote, “The arts are essential elements of education just likereading, writing, and arithmetic…Music, dance, painting, and theater are keys to unlock
  4. 4. profound human understanding and accomplishment” (Swann-Hudkins, 2002).An example of the benefits of teaching the arts would be the study of a teacher who taught thewater cycle lesson through movement and music. The students were introduced to the water cyclein the traditional style of teaching, reading and lecturing. Yet, in order for the students to fullyunderstand the “experience” of being a snowflake, the students listened toTchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (The Waltz of the Snowflakes) and closed their eyesvisualizing the adventure snowflakes encounter on there way to the ground. A great side effect ofdance is that “exposure to dances foreign to them (the students) helps them to understandand appreciate differences in societies. Their minds become open to new ideas and a differentperspective. This understanding helps to eliminate possible prejudice, enriching the student andour society” (Swan-Hudkins, 2003, p.17). While the music was playing the teacher askedthem questions, such as, “How are they going to land” and “What do you seeas you are falling”. The second time listening to the music the students were asked to actout the water cycle through movement and dance. Teachers should know “a class thatincludes dance can make students feel empowered and actively involved in their education. Increating their own dance, students develop conceptional thinking, which is not always expressedverbally” (Swan-Hudkins, 2003, p. 17).With these activities, the students were able to become part of the water cycle instead of just usingtheir listening skills and trying to mentally figure out this lesson. The teacher also had the studentswrite a poem using words they felt while they, the snowflakes, were falling to the ground (Jacobs,1999, p.2). “The motivational powers of the arts are significant as this teacher explained,“Hooking a kid is half, if not more than half, the battle of learning. If you can hook them, thenyou can get them to learn” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 6). Teachers need to gain access to all stylesof learning which can only spark their motivational powers.Harvard Project Researchers Winner and Hetland remarks, “The best hope for the arts inour school is to justify them by what they can do that other subjects can’t do as well”(Swan-Hudkins, 2003, p. 18). Teachers need to gain a better education of teaching their studentsthrough the arts. Without the arts, teachers are limiting their students’ ability to use theirentire thinking process, providing less opportunity for complete comprehension. Teaching throughthe arts is the most powerful tool that teachers can give in their classrooms because it enables thestudents to achieve their highest level of learning.With the lack of attention art is getting outside of the classroom, teachers cannot afford not toincorporate dance, theater, visual arts, or music in their lesson plans. Fine arts is the corecurriculums constant and most important companion. No child should be left behind, and teachingthrough the arts will reinforce this idea.ResourcesBerghoff, B., Bixler-Borgmann, C., and Parr, C. (2003). Cycles of Inquiry with the Arts. Urbana, 17,1-17.Burns, M. (2003). Connecting Arts Education Policy and Research to Classroom Teaching.Presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.California Art Study. (2003). Retrieved on April 18 from
  5. 5. []Encarta Online Dictionary. (2004). Retrieved on April 17 fromhttp://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/fine%20arts.htmlJacobs, V. and Goldberg, M. (1999). Teaching Core Curriculum Content through the Arts. AnnualMeeting of the American Educational Research Association. Ontario, Canada.Swan-Hudkins, B. (2002). The Effect of an Elementary Fine Arts Program on Students’.M.A.Thesis. Salem International University. Salem, West Virginia.Debbie Cluff is the owner and tutoring of Links for Learning, [http://www.links-for-learning.com]She has recieved her Masters in Education and is currently teaching 1st grade in Orem, Utah. Shehas two children and is the oldest of 10 kids.Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Debbie_Cluff==== ====Are you an art lover? Would you like to become one? Nothing to buy, simply enjoy art at:http://www.showoffart.com/==== ====