Is an art-infused curriculum essential today?


As students become increasingly tech-savvy, traditional curriculums become more and more mundane and at times irrelevant.  Many instructors are now turning towards an art-infused curriculum to grasp the student's ever-waning attention.  In the past, many school districts cut the arts from their curriculums completely, now educators are asking, was this a good idea and how do we bring the arts back? To successfully integrate art into a curriculum, the approach must be like that of an artist, a robust process in which research is cultivated and nurtured, inspiring the learners to take a hands-on approach to their education.  Let’s look at a few ways instructors can successfully use the arts to stimulate their students.  


Think Like an Artist 

Think more about the whole picture and less about items you need to “check off”.  Instead of creating a list of things you want your students to learn, think about what you want them to realize.  For example, say you are an English teacher trying desperately to teach Shakespeare to your 11th-grade class.  BORING! They shout out.  And, yeah, probably so.  Take this opportunity to think like an artist, as a director more specifically.  Instead of “teaching” Macbeth, have the class become a production company.  Assign roles as costume designers, actors, director, make-up, lighting, promotions, and scriptwriters.  In this way, the students now have a hands-on approach to their learning and will enjoy the process more thereby learning more.  

Cultivate Your Learners 

Rather than seeing your class structure through a series of repetitive lesson plans, envision your students creating a product with a set schedule.  Give your students clear, albeit diverse, objectives to be met with a deadline then immerse your students in the project.  Empower them with the skills they will need to complete their project such as a timeline and opportunity for continuous critiques.  Run your classroom like a marketing office, where constant feedback from the instructor and their peers is crucial for students to redraft their work.  This involves students in the rich process of project completion from start to finish and makes sure students are engaged throughout the process and care about what they are learning. 

Bring Learning to Life 

Fusing art with core curriculum content helps the students visualize their learning and brings sometimes difficult concepts into real-world applications.  By incorporating, music, sketching, acting, directing, and creativity of any kind, you will get engagement from students.  I spoke to a math teacher recently who was having a difficult time teaching Geometric proofs.  She had the idea to turn her Geometry class into a design studio.  Students designed fashion using geometry and then put on a fashion show.  The students were completely engaged throughout the project, and she saw exam scores go up 60 percent from the previous year.  


Art provides an emotional connection to the core content being taught in class.  Teaching learners how to create art not only engages students but also allows them the content to live through them, providing a purpose for communicating their knowledge to the world.  

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