The Arts Make a Difference
The arts survive in education primarily as curriculum enrichments. Evidence is emerging, however, that shows that arts education can have powerful effects on student achievement, with the greatest gains for students at the lowest socioeconomic status and thus most at risk of academic failure. Arts integration is an instructional strategy that brings the arts into the core of the school day and connects the arts across the curriculum. Beyond conventional art programs or simplified artistic enrichment of core courses, integrating art with content has multiple benefits for students.
In this Educational Leadership article, Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond describe programs in Chicago where teachers work with community artists and music and art teachers to integrate the arts across the curriculum. The work is supported by recent developments in neuroscience that allude to the emotional content of the arts as integral to cognitive functions.
In arts-integrated classrooms, work more often meaningfully connects to students' own experiences and feelings. Students create a product for an audience that matters to them; develop aesthetic standards, and experience a great sense of accomplishment. The best programs draw on the artistic resources of their communities; view student achievement and school improvement as pivotal to their mission; engage teachers, arts specialists, and artists from all disciplines in serious inquiry; reflect each school's particular strengths; and raise funds from outside the school system to support their arts-integration work.
Read the full article. (PDF)