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Integration of Arts into Curricular Delivery

During the last two decades, more and more attention was directed at the need to integrate interdisciplinary arts education into the public school curricula. Eisner & Day (2004) established the essential for the arts and then argued that the integration is needed to reduce compartmentalization of the disciplines as between arts (i. e. visual arts, music, dance, theater) as inter and intra typical academic core subjects (i. e. language arts, math, sciences). The proposition of interdisciplinary curriculum will include integration of different arts that will cross traditional subject matter boundaries.

If to look closer, visual arts, dance, music, and theater share same common attribute: need for the audience. The need for the audience contributes to the developing of the purpose, which by itself becomes a strong motivator to excel. For example, the not-so-obscure program called Reader’s Theater (Corcoran & Davis, 2005) teaches students the elements of drama and at the same time improves reading fluency and comprehension. The question will arise in how we approach teaching (and integrating) arts into the curriculum.

In other words, should Art teachers become versed in language arts, math, and sciences or subject core teachers should become efficient at arts? The latter is more sensible and logical for the arts (theater, music, visual arts, and dance) can become tools and/or expressions of the core matter. In essence, when a Language Arts teacher assigns students to practice a dance in order to express the thoughts and emotions of main characters in the selection they are reading this week, that becomes an integration.

Likewise, when the math teacher, using Picasso’s work (or Da Vinchi, Michelangelo and others) teaches his/her students use of geometrical forms that becomes integration. The same Language Arts teacher can teach his/her students to write a song as the critical response to the dialogue of the main characters within the selection. Further performance of the song in front of the student body can become an effective integration and establish a purpose.

Similarly, when the same teacher, using the sixth grade social studies curriculum will help kids to develop a play that would display some studied characteristics in the life of the Pharaoh with the consequent performance in front of the student body, that will become an effective integration. However, to expect general education teachers be able to choreograph dances, set up plays, read music, coach voices, paint, conduct musical performances and do other relevant actions is beyond scope of traditionally educated professionals.

However, if the arts specialists are (and should be) available and are at hand, the integration of their specific skills must be structured and encouraged within the traditional curriculum delivery. That is, instead of the separate and isolated classes (i. e. music, art), such specialists should work within the ‘regular’ lessons and concurrently the general education teachers providing the specific skill support to the daily instruction integrated with the various expressions of arts. Similarly, Dunn (1995, p. 34) proposes a model of the arts integration into traditional curriculum on the middle school level.

He wrote, “An integrated arts program must be based on a team teaching approach utilizing trained specialists in art, music, dance, and theatre education. ” Such ‘team teaching’ will guarantee the mutual support of the curriculum delivery for the sake of the students. He further proposed the practical implementation of such integration that can result intra curricular integration of the arts into the core matter. In contrast some researchers suggested to focus on teacher preparation programs that would train future professionals from the beginning to think from the point of view of integration of arts into the curriculum (see Wicks, 1997).

Creating such linkage between holistic and core subjects will improve efficacy of the curriculum. It has been evidenced (see references) that inclusion of arts into the curricular deliver enhances the learning efficacy in core subjects. Today, there is no doubt that such integration is needed and is beneficial. The question is and still stands in the creation of practical approaches across the grade levels and academic disciplines.

References

Corcoran, C. A. , & Davis, A. D. (2005). A Study of the Effects of Readers’ Theater on Second and Third Grade Special Education Students’ Fluency Growth.

Reading Improvement, 42(2), 105+. Retrieved July 1, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5010994244 Dunn, P. C. (1995). Integrating the Arts: Renaissance and Reformation in Arts Education. Arts Education Policy Review, 96(4), 32-37. Retrieved July 1, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=97807214 Eisner, E. W. & Day, M. D. (Eds. ). (2004). Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved July 1, 2007, from Questia database:

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