Sunday, October 6, 2013

10 things all art educators should know about art integration

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Jonathan Sanchez 
For the University of Florida art education program

"10 Things All Art Educators Should Know About Art Integration"

As Damkohler states in her recent artsblog there are limits to integrating the arts in all disciplines and integration should not allow for the replacing art education or art educators, (anymore than language or PE instructors). Here however are some ideas from our recent readings that make a good argument for integration of art education into other subjects and other subjects into arts. This two way street can enrich both art education with other dimensions such as social or history studies, and also put a human aspect to many other pursuits such as the aesthetic thinking involved in engineering or industrial design. So below is my top ten list of the many ways art can augment and be augmented by integration with other subjects.

#1 Experiential Learning
As Maeda puts it, "the study of getting your hands dirty." Art allows learning through doing like nothing else does.

#2 The Human Quest (for truth and beauty)
All of the writings this time out suggest in various ways that art is inherently bound to enduring ideas as Maeda states the arts are, "dedicated to finding truth and beauty." Therefore it is believed that art will and can be an important invitation or initiation to the really big ideas.

#3 Metaphorical thinking
So much of are experience with regard to visual culture, literature, and the performing arts requires an unlocking of symbolic meaning or metaphorical thinking. Stewart, M. & S. Walker in Rethinking Curriculum in Art (pg 111, 2005) suggest that our first Vorstellung or introduction to symbolic thinking and therefore metaphorical thinking is usually through art. They further state that contemporary art being largely conceptual and less reliant on traditional representation is perhaps the best way to introduce students to metaphorical thinking. 

#4 Aesthetic Dimension of Knowing 
How do we interpret the world around us? How much of are experiences are based on design and other aspects of visual culture learning to interpret therefore our visual experiences is the primary goal of art education. 

#5 Encourages Innovation
"With global competition rising, America is at a critical juncture in defining its economic future. I believe that art and design are poised to transform and sustain… America's role as innovator of the world." Maeda, J. (October 2, 2012).

#6 Multi-cultural integration
Art appreciation and exploration can be used to bring in a variety of cultural traditions and therefore form a ethnographic, sociological, historic, anthropological or social studies dimension.

#7 Problem Solving
Like chemistry or any form of lab work mixing materials, or forming a composition involves a basic problem solving ability. The skills of problem solving are not unique to art and therefore can be applied to any discipline. 

#8 Interactive Learning
Group projects, research applied to creating a work, actually making things in an art classroom are all examples of the unique forms of interactive learning found in an art classroom. These mind opening processes can then be applied to any discipline. 

#9 Topical art and current events
Topical contemporary art can easily be used to discuss current events in a wide range of subjects.

#10 Aids in Creative Thinking
"Whether today's students go on to be artists, doctors or politicians, we know that the challenges their generation faces will demand creative solutions. We should fully expect that, in the coming decades, many of our best leaders will come from art and design backgrounds." Maeda, J. (October 2, 2012).

Damkohler, L. (July 6, 2011) Arts integration isn’t enough. ARTSblog.  Retrieved from

Maeda, J. (October 2, 2012).  STEM to STEAM: Art in K-12 is key to building a strong economy.  Edutopia.  Retrieved from

Stewart, M. & S. Walker (2005). Rethinking Curriculum in Art. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications: Chapter 7: Art and Integrated Curriculum pp. 105-117.

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