I Can Teach
Arts Education is a dying a slow budgetary death. Cutting specialized arts programs seem the first step to tightening the budgetary belt. It is a sad thing to see go and so it seem to fall on the shoulders of the classroom teacher to begin to incorporate arts education in to the classroom. After reading about different ways to involve arts into multi-disciplinary lessons, for social studies, literature, science, etc., I see the value in creating an arts program that is joined with other disciplines not taught separately. Although, this blending of curriculum is not as singularly focused as going to a specialized art class, it does offer a comprehensive look into arts education, can support depth of understanding, and continue to meet the curricular standards.
I saw this reflected in a curriculum for teaching science through photography. Students were given a camera, science journal and the opportunity to take black and white photos in the vein of Ansel Adams. Students not only studied the scientific components of the plants and environments they were photographing but they learned about the art of photography. The lesson began with the important artistic rules for artful photography and supported artistic ingenuity and creativity of the personal choices. Students were able to connect science to art through the camera, careful connection of scientific knowledge, and reflection in their journals. The students displayed their black and white photos in a gallery along with scientific drawing and journal entries to reflect both their knowledge acquisition of science and art. This combination of science and art became a program that the teacher continued to develop and still teaches. Incorporating arts in any classroom is possible. The challenge is to create a program that supports all academic standards and blends curriculum with a unified finesse. This is reflected through the following quote from arts education champion Elliot Eisner as he comments on the significance of making and re-creating art education in any venue.
The arts inform as well as stimulate, they challenge as well as satisfy. Their location is not limited to galleries, concert halls and theatres. Their home can be found wherever humans chose to have attentive and vita intercourse with life itself. This is, perhaps, the largest lesson that the arts in education can teach, the lesson that life itself can be led as a work of art. In so doing the maker himself or herself is remade. The remaking, this re-creation is at the heart of the process of education. (Eisner 1998: 56)