Art integration is nothing but a
way of making art a medium
of teaching; by making drawing,
painting, music and dance a way
of learning in the classroom. Art
allows children to learn in meaningful
ways—by adapting and applying
the knowledge they have received.
All the subjects that a child learns,
such as mathematics, science, social
studies and languages, can be easily
correlated with art. The concepts of
these subjects can be personified to
make learning more effective and
create a connection between life
inside and outside the classroom.
This type of learning helps in the development of motor skills, decision-making skills, language skills, team building and peer recognition. It helps students analyse what they have learnt and correlate it to their real-life situations to have a better understanding of the subject. It also has the potential to become a very important tool for social change and help each child believe they are an achiever, giving them the confidence to take their idea forward.
Art can engage students in communication and allow them to reflect and respond in a meaningful way, as they use higher levels of thinking skills and in-depth knowledge related to the topic. As a result, students’ conversations will be more authentic and knowledgeable, and this will help instil qualities like empathy, understanding human ideas, emotions, reasoning, imagination and intervention.
These skills and qualities can then be taken to a larger demographic zone, which is the school, where these qualities can be used freely with justice and equality. The diversity of the cultures that the students come from and the application of problem-solving skills will help us build better democratic citizens of tomorrow. Students will apply art not only to express things about themselves or the subject for that matter, but also to their surroundings and social context, making it an effective tool for communication with society at large.
The most important question here is, how can we integrate learning with art and connect it with life experiences?
The main objective would be to engage students in such a manner that their experiences connect them to life outside classrooms. The mode of instruction should be authentic and clear as only then will it lead to meaningful achievement.
The themes given should be broader such that students can relate to them. For example, if we are going to talk about insects and their habitats, then students should be given some samples to observe before they create their own versions out of clay or make models out of waste. They should be allowed to be creative with their colours. This will help students develop an observatory eye towards The most important question here is, how can we integrate learning with art and connect it with life experiences? the insects around them. They should also try to study the insects’ movements, colours and habitats and learn their scientific names. This is a better way of learning than acquiring knowledge from books and learning from diagrams.
Critical thinking is one of the most important aspects in the process of education. Authentic instruction and thematic structure will foster reflective learning. It will build a bridge between the text and the integration of art, which will develop open mind thinking and enhance the process of problem solving.
A typical 40-minute class can be clearly divided into theory discussion and the integration of art. The integration will have to be planned minutely with detailed instructions. Initially, the process will be time-consuming for the students but with a set of instructions, students will gradually gain confidence. It will open their minds to reflective thinking, leading to in-depth research for which the teacher does not need extra time during class as the students are already set on the path of learning.
Teachers will need to think of viable themes that relate to other subjects and include those themes with clear instructions. The assessment that will be done will have to be a broader one, which will include the research aspects of the work done by students. Students should be active participants in their assessment. The criteria used for assessment should include their involvement, application of knowledge and its connection to the world outside. High stakes of achievement should be given an alternative.
Developing their artistic freedom will empower students to be more confident and feel like an integral part of the world that they live in, with deeper connectivity and empathy and deep-rooted understanding of emotions and relationships. Exploring solutions to social, cultural and emotional concerns without taking away judgement of right and wrong will drain the meaningfulness out of education. We need to provide students with learning experiences to live happier and fuller lives.
by Principal Dr Rupali Dhamdhere, Trinity International School, KJ’s Educational Institute, Pune