The changes and complexities of today’s world present new challenges to our education system. On the one hand, the goal of education is considered as the transmission of knowledge by the teachers to the students, on the other it is to facilitate student self-learning and self-expression.
Methodologies used within the classroom have significant impact on learning. The rationale behind any classroom strategy is to emphasize upon hands-on or practical application of knowledge, develop a global perspective and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning. In a classroom, a teacher can use a variety of methodologies depending upon the subject, topic, level and profile of the learners. The current article throws light on how art can be used as an effective instructional strategy to enhance student learning.
ART is something that A-Anybody can R-Relate T-to. Artistic Expression in the form of music, dance, drama, painting, has played a significant role in human growth. Since time immemorial, human beings have been using art to express their feelings and portray their thoughts.
Art integrated education – its meaning and significance
Art Integrated Learning (AIL) is a cross-curricular approach to teaching-learning, where art is taken as the primary medium to learn a subject and also to assess what has been learnt. The integration makes the learning process joyful for the students and promotes a deeper understanding of the concept along with greater appreciation for the art form being used for the purpose.
Bringing the arts into core curricula raises student achievement and improves student engagement. Teaching and learning through art is an essential foundational practice because it helps students develop critical thinking skills across disciplines. It also empowers students to articulate their learning no matter the content being addressed. Children can apply art-based enquiry, investigation and exploration, critical thinking and creativity for deeper understanding of the concepts. Moreover, ideas are formed best when two or more minds meet. AIL gives an opportunity to the students to collaborate on projects to frame research questions, to develop a mural, to write a script for an animation movie, to present a concept in the form of role play, etc. When students collaborate they have to communicate, or nothing can be done! So, AIL also provides a platform to develop life skills such as communication skills, reflection, un-conditioning of minds leading to elevated self-belief and self-esteem. Furthermore, it broadens the mindset of the students enabling them to visualize the inter-linkages between subject, topic and life.
Art integration as an instructional strategy
Art Integrated Learning is not only relevant for developing creativity and art appreciation among students but is also necessary for inculcating art based enquiry skills. Teachers can provide a plethora of opportunities for art integrated learning in their classes based on both visual and performing arts.
According to the recent guidelines by CBSE, “Art must be integrated with the teaching and learning process of all academic subjects from classes 1 to 12, to promote active/experiential learning for connecting knowledge to life outside the school, ensuring that learning shifts away from rote methods, so that it goes beyond textbooks.” To incorporate AIL, the classroom transactions may include activities like role plays, song compositions, model creation, collage and poster making, clay modelling, puppetry, dance, sketching, nukkad natak, comic strips, jewellery making, etc., to name a few. Schools can also have special clubs to help students focus on skills like photography, dance, vocal and instrumental music, creative writing, dramatics and culinary art. Such exposures not only make classrooms joyful and creative but also promote appreciation of our rich art and cultural heritage.
For AIL to bring about the desired outcome, it is important for educators to have an unambiguous thought process and a well laid out plan for classroom implementation. An educator can refer to the following steps:
Step 1: Choice of topic
The selection of the topic/theme is essential for providing students with a fulfilling art integrated experience. The teacher should ensure that the topic draws upon the previous learning experiences of the students. She/he should first initiate a discussion to extract information about the past learning experiences and then select a suitable theme for the activity/project.
Step 2: Artistic enquiry
Once an appropriate theme is selected, the teacher should provide opportunities for artistic enquiry. Abundant opportunities must be provided to promote learning through collaboration. The teacher can help students explore the topic as part of group work and come up with their findings.
Step 3: Expression of the knowledge using an appropriate art from
Art integration creates equity because the arts are naturally differentiated. This means students can learn in a manner that best meets their needs. The teacher may choose an appropriate art form to help students explore and put forward their learning. One particular art form (visual or performing) may be selected by the teacher and the students collectively to display their findings. The teacher may also offer flexibility by allowing students to choose the art form they are most fond of to reflect their learning. This will bring forth various forms of art and help project the creativity of young minds in their own unique way.
The art experience can be used as a mode of introduction to the concept which can further be built upon by the teacher by adding more details about the chosen topic/theme.
Step 4: Assessment of learning (both subject and art)
The teacher should prepare an appropriate rubric to assess the art integrated learning. She may collaborate with the art teacher to discuss the details related to the art experience. Self-assessment and peer-assessment can be used as effective tools as these provide students with opportunities to understand their own work as well as the work of their peers as a part of the deeper learning experience.
People don’t like change. They are often afraid of what a new approach might do TO them instead of what it will do FOR them. As educators, we should try and make a difference for each child every single day. It is imperative that we use the art integration approach consistently and make small changes to our classrooms over time.
The author is the Headmistress in Pragyan School, Greater Noida. She is a progressive teacher with 14 years of experience. She has received the prestigious Global Teacher Award 2019 and CBSE National Award 2018 for her contributions in the field of education. She has worked with both NCERT and CBSE for creating art integrated learning content and activities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.