By Richa Chaubey, Academic Head ( Junior School), Sunbeam School Lahartara, Varanasi
A teacher should be an artist first as the art of teaching is the greatest art of all. It requires us to have not only the subject knowledge but also to know precisely how to dispense it to students making the learning meaningful. Different art forms have been a part of our lives from time unknown to express ourselves even at times when words fail. So when as an educator I think about concrete, meaningful and deep-rooted learning, integrating arts in education comes as the strongest way to do this.
We humans have always been expressing our views and emotions through arts. Different forms of arts have been used for centuries, even before a formal verbal language was developed, which proves that arts was used to express emotions which were difficult to be put in words. It is used even today as one of the most powerful means of communication.
Integration in dictionaries gives us a simple meaning of this word as an act or process or an instance of combining into an integral whole but when we talk about integrating arts in education it simply cannot be just combining two different subjects or streams.Integration is difficult in education as its not just merely mixing different concepts but integrating them well enough so that students can have a more creative, practical, collaborative approach to face the challenges the future brings.
Need of Arts Integration in Education-
Even a year old child starts connecting his surroundings to the things he sees, feels and listens to before he starts speaking. In the initial years of learning most of the emphasis is given on picture identification of everyday objects, association of words with images and also how kids draw different everyday objects with their own perspective.Our sense organs arereceptive of the incidents happening aroundwhich creates a deep impression of our understanding and association of the incidents to us.
Arts not only foster learning but can lead to more meaningful and sustainable learning to make students future ready. Learning experiences relating to arts can help students develop basic life skills including social, personal and critical thinking skills. These basic life skills lead us to achieve a mindful, more successful and subtle social life and relationships.
Studies from across the world show that students who were in a habit of aligning the concepts taught with the help of graphic organizers or with any other kind of drawing learn faster and the learning is deep rooted and concrete. This has been the main reason behind a fine arts education considered aa a part of school curriculums for over decades.
A new study finds that drawing is better than taking down notes, listening to lectures and learning from the plain text given in course books as it is a powerful tool to learn and retain any concept as the learning taking place this way is not short term. Students who draw the concepts taught or any new information received understand and remember the content nearly twice as much as compared to the students who just wrote it or listened to. Combining arts to other subjects works more than one way. It activates the visual, logical, kinaesthetic and linguistic areas of the brain at the same time, so the neurons are active in more than one way, making a path for more meaningful and authentic learning…. connecting and creating more neural activities and making learning deeper and sustainable.
Wikipedia says “Art Integration is an approach to teaching that integrates the fine and performing art as primary pathways to learning. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject and meets evolving objectives in both.”
Let kids draw, dance, sing, act more and connect it to different concepts irrelevant of subjects. Encouraging kids to do these more would let their creative side be more active. When talking about integration we try to mix these two different arenas of arts and subjects in such a way that it makes the way ahead a lot easier and better.
Integrating other subjects into arts can be very helpful if the kids can be shown how it takes place. As integration can be difficult for kids at the initial stage. Showing them how this can be done will give them a base to take up this approach at their own pace.
Every concept can relate to arts whether it’s in any form. Once kids understand this, they explore means and ways to connect everything to arts using their creativity, senses and experiences. Finding ways to integrate arts and other subjects tickle young brains giving their neurons some food to develop critical thinking.
‘Imagine-explore-connect-create-present ‘can be used as an approach where learning takes from lower order to higher order of thinking. When students explore the concept in terms of connecting it with arts they also explore the hidden aspects of learning which otherwise are crucial yet underrated. Connecting and creating their own artwork based on the subject fosters creativity and problem solving skill and positive attitude in learners.
Letart integrated education be the new normal for more meaningful learning.