Arts integration as a concept actually first appeared in a 1939 educational publication. Thus, arts integration has been around for longer than you might’ve imagined.
Yet the idea of arts integration didn’t really take hold until the 1970s and 1980s when hundreds of well-researched and scholarly articles and books were written that outlined its importance. It appeared to have a promising future in the educational realm.
Even so, only a few college and university programs were interested in dedicating time or space to arts integration classes or training. And it didn’t take long for misconceptions and myths about arts integration to take root in academia.
What Are Some Myths about Arts Integration Education?
With the current emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the arts have placed a distant last in some educator’s minds. Which is too bad.
Because recent research shows how integrating art into the STEM paradigm (thus making it STEAM) has huge benefits.
With that being said, we’ll take a look at some of the myths and just why they aren’t true.
1. Arts Integration Takes Too Much Time
Teachers have it rough these days. They’re under a lot of stress to meet the deadlines of the curriculum and, even worse, ensure that their students get coveted test scores.
Thus, many of them are quick to shy away from integrating the arts into their lessons. They’ve got enough to do. And we get it.
But the reality is, arts integration does NOT take a long time to implement. It’s simply a method of teaching the existing curriculum, but in a more interactive and engaging sort of way.
For example, music and visual arts can be pathways to learning in ways that are more interesting than reading from textbooks or assigning worksheets.
When teachers shift their thinking to seeing arts integration as a different method of information transfer, it doesn’t detract from content learning. It transforms it.
Once they discover these different routes for teaching concepts, it falls into place quite easily.
2. With So Much Focus on STEM, the Arts Are Not That Important
Despite the stereotype of the disorganized creative buffoon, artists have to be extremely self-disciplined to work in their craft. They have to understand form and structure amid a seemingly chaotic scene. Then they have to learn to stay within those forms.
Not all that different from the STEM subjects.
Plus, creating in an art form stimulates a student’s natural curiosity. When they have to figure out how to paint a scientific theory or demonstrate math formulas through choreography, for example, they actually gain a deeper understanding of both subjects simultaneously.
Then there is all of the research that shows how students who learn through arts integration are developing essential critical thinking skills. The same critical thinking skills that are essential in the STEM subjects.
3. Creativity Cannot Be Taught
You’ve probably heard someone say, “I’m just not the creative type.” Maybe you’ve said it yourself.
This is one of the biggest myths of arts integration education.
While not everyone is driven to create, everybody is born creative. Unfortunately, funds are repeatedly pulled out of arts programs and educators systematically discourage creativity.
But here’s the thing. So-called creative people who haven’t had it sucked out of them actually share common traits. And as it turns out, those traits are teachable.
Working in the arts is not a matter of sitting around and waiting for the muse to strike. It is the thoughtful, intelligent, demanding and committed pursuit of the most effective way to realize an inspired idea in a way that speaks to others.
There is a natural ebb and flow with which both the students and teachers have to become comfortable. It’s a part of the creative process.
And while there aren’t really clear expectations and rules for grading the arts, they are teachable when working with a rubric. With a rubric, teachers and students look at the expectations of a project collectively.
For instance, they might ask if the project:
- is designed according to the rules and using the elements of the art form
- communicates an idea clearly and correctly
- demonstrates focus and concentration
From there, the students compare the results with their first draft by using the same rubric. They then return to their project to revise it – with the objective being a move toward mastery.
All of this is clear evidence of learning and growth.
4. Teachers Need Extensive Training
This myth stems from the false belief that, once again, creative people are cut from a different cloth. But working in arts integration doesn’t require teachers to complete an additional degree or extensive training.
In essence, arts integration is a teaching tool. It allows students who have difficulty absorbing the material being taught to engage.
Within this model, teachers act as facilitators for students freely exploring and learning. Students continue to learn art in art classes and content in content classes. But from there, teachers give them the freedom to extend that learning through creativity.
This also gives students who are advanced in one academic area to explore and push themselves even further beyond the planned-out lesson.
Teachers have access to online resources and programs, teaching artist videos, and museum websites to facilitate this.
5. Not Every Child Will Benefit from Art
There will always be children who’d rather take apart a machine, play baseball or stare at images through a microscope than paint or draw. But the beautiful thing about arts integration is the ability to see everything as art.
The child who disassembles a toy is a deconstructive artist, while the child who plays baseball is learning a specific choreography. And the child who delights in microscope slides is no different than an artist entering a completely different world.
Regardless of how they feel about art, there is no child who does not benefit from an arts education. It teaches them to be critical thinkers who know how to look at the world from different points of view.
And that is something that will not only benefit them, but society as a whole.
How Can You Benefit from Arts Integration?
We hope we were successful in dispelling myths about arts integration for you. There are just so many effective and powerful ways to teach and to learn through the arts.
If you’d like to see how arts integration works in action, we invite you to take a tour of our school. And come see for yourself how the myths just aren’t true.