Keeping the arts in the curriculum
Children love to perform, and they love to create. Their parents like to watch them act and dance, read the poems they’ve written, and display their artwork. They encourage creativity in their children.
Schools also should encourage creative pursuits and engage students in the arts. Children connect more deeply with the lessons. They look forward to coming to school because they are excited about performing creatively. Increased attendance among students correlates directly to improved student achievement.
Our passion for keeping the arts in the curriculum tends to wax and wane according to accountability demands and funding levels.
The benefits of an arts education
Most educators know about the connection between arts education and academic rigor. Arts education not only inspires students, but it also motivates them. Students exposed to an arts education have:
- Higher scores in math, reading, and writing
- Fewer disciplinary referrals
- Better school attendance
- Demonstrated greater empathy for those in the community
- Improved graduation rates
The arts spark creativity, and in doing so, may help to rewire the brain and how it thinks.
School districts dedicated to the arts
Some schools around the nation have made a commitment to revitalizing and reinventing themselves through art education. Large cities like Dallas and New York City are bringing the arts back into schools. Doing so has taken a village of artists, composers, visionaries, and philanthropists.
To ensure that the arts have a place in the curriculum, they must be sustainable. Chicago and Minneapolis have worked diligently to ensure that the arts become entrenched in the curriculum.
Unfortunately, not all schools have been able to sustain an arts program.
The arts-integrated curriculum
If your school cannot or will not make the arts part of the curriculum, you can do your part in your subject area. Integrate the arts into your lessons in these ways:
- Perform plays instead of reading them. ELA classes can mount a production and invite the history classes to be the audience.
- Include dance as part of PE classes.
- Use call and response and a way to incorporate rhythm. Even handclapping can set the pace as students answer math questions or read aloud.
- Create human sculptures by dressing up as historical figures.
- Analyze sound waves from a guitar string, a drum beat, or a single note from a brass instrument.
- Interpret paintings from a variety of perspectives. What are the mathematical properties? How does paint bond to canvas? What themes can students find?
- Study plot development in operas and symphonies.
- Create illustrations as summaries of chapters.
- Listen to music from different historical periods.
Don’t stress over not being able to carry a tune in a bucket or paint anything on a paper. Let your students tap into some of their more creative multiple intelligences. They’ll do the creative part.
Children look forward to the opportunity to be creative, and they welcome lessons that include the arts. Your willingness to use the arts as a complement to your lessons will motivate and inspire your students.
Our students need the arts in their lives. We owe it to them to keep the arts in their curriculum.