Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014/2015 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2016/2017 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How can we maximize the value of art and music in education and how can it be blended with more traditional subjects” – here is my response:
In a 21st-century teaching world that is in a constant state of change, we find ourselves as educators trying to find value in everything we do. Maximizing curriculum integration is key in an environment with a packed curriculum and limited time for teachers to extend their learning.
An area that deserves particular attention is the Arts, incorporating everything from music, drama, visual art, dance and more. STEM & STEAM are popular terms being thrown around at the moment that helps teachers understand the importance of curriculum integration. It has been interesting following the STEM/STEAM discussions online over the past year and the feelings that people have towards this. I have noticed a trend towards people using these words without following through and demonstrating actual integration that supports student learning. My biggest fear is that buzz words take over and as a result, true learning misses out. That is what we are trying to avoid at my school as we push towards a STEAM orientated approach to learning.
Image source: http://steampoweredclassroom.com/full-steam-ahead-diy-ideas-for-hands-on-science-tech-engineering-art-and-math/
In my school, subjects like Drama, Music, and Visual Arts get as much specialist teacher time as every other subject. It is treated as an equal, rather than an after-thought. In addition to this, Units of Inquiry are planned in conjunction with specialists and integrated units are planned with a STEAM approach in the forefront of teachers minds. True curriculum integration occurs when all stakeholders are on board and are a part of the process, being treated as equals. We also utilize our school’s innovation center, where a maker space allows students to think, design and act in creative ways to extend their learning in areas of interest.
Children are born with a naturally curious and creative mindset and as educators, we tend to drive the creativity out instead of encouraging its growth. At my school, we emphasize the importance of a creative and innovative mindset – creative minds need time to develop ideas in a non-threatening environment where mistakes are considered learning opportunities. Some advice – encourage creativity through specific creative tasks or activities throughout the day and integrate these into all curriculum areas. Give students a choice and a voice as to how they present their learning and actively promote the Arts as a tool to share learning!
Technology integration is something I am very proud of at my school and an area of huge importance to the development of an integrating mindset. Technology is a tool to engage students in learning, in ALL subject areas. A recent way we have started utilizing Virtual Reality (VR) advancements for integration, is with the introduction of Google Expeditions. Educational field trips are able to be done anytime, anywhere with VR. This allows on tap learning in many areas, in particular focusing on architecture, art centers and museums within the Arts Curriculum. The learning is real and organic!
Image source: http://myvrgoggles.com/google-expeditions-google-takes-students-on-a-virtual-reality-tour-with-vr-headsets-pid-283154/
By maximizing the value of Arts integration we encourage students to actively promote the creative and innovative mindset that they are naturally born with. I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this area – contact me via Twitter or here in the comments below.