Arts and disadvantaged groups : In an Elementary School catering to mixed social groups in Washington, employing the arts in academic classrooms was associated with improvement in test scores in Mathematics and English (Donna St. George, 2015). In particular, students living in poverty benefitted from the integrated approach. The researcher further emphasized that interest in the integration of arts is growing globally, driven by increasing research that points to the academic, social and personal benefits to students.
Arts create innovative processes : Nobori (2012) was amazed at how the arts unlock pathways to learning. The process of integrating arts may seem like conducting art projects in classroom settings, but becomes a teaching strategy that seamlessly merges art experiences with core curricula to build connections in engaging learning contexts. For instance students choreographed a dance using locomotor and non- Art Integrated Learning — Guidelines 5 locomotor movements to demonstrate their understanding of the solar system.
Arts and Socio-emotional development : Based on his research, Harvey (1989) found out that art process relates to cognition, achievement, motivation, and self-concept in elementary school students. In essence, arts when integrated with learning process work splendidly as affective education. “The use of art, movement, and music can result in metaphormaking and problem- solving of social/emotional conflicts. In this way the creative arts practices unite the cognitive aspect of creativity and the therapeutic aspect of behavioural and personality change. Because of this integration of thinking and feeling, the creative arts therapies offer an opportunity to positively affect social/emotional and academic behaviour”.
Arts as Pedagogy : Puri and Arora, (2013) reviewed the use of Art Integrated Learning in 107 classrooms of 17 Municipal Corporation in New Delhi and found
Learning through the arts can take place at all levels of schooling. Art integrated learning is experiential in nature and makes all children respond with their imagination and emotional strengths. The needs of children will vary with age, social contexts and ability. Stage-wise objectives for engaging children in art integrated learning are as follows:
At this stage children are both highly inquisitive and energetic. Creative activities such as drawing, painting, clay work, music are both appealing and engaging for young children. At this stage ‘all education should be through the arts’. The objective of children’s participation in visual and performing arts is to:
Art education at this stage needs to link with all subjects such that it becomes a tool of teaching-learning concepts. Art can play an effective role in strengthening the child’s curiosity, imagination, and sense of wonder. They should have a positive impact on the skills related to intellectual, socio-emotional, motor, language and overall literacy. The objectives of AIL at primary level are to help children:
During this stage children are ready to comprehend more complex interconnections between concepts and the environment. AIL can allow children build on simple concepts as well as relate them with academic content meaningfully. Children also enhance the skill to work in groups and explore ideas together. The objectives of AIL at the upper primary level are to help children:
Art Integrated Learning provides a unique opportunity to the children to explore various themes and concepts through visual and performing arts. It means art becomes an integral part of the classroom teaching-learning process. For example, on the theme of Water we have the question: ‘Where does water come from?’ The children may use ‘black colour’ for dirty/sewage water and ‘blue’ to say it’s a river. At this point, the teacher needs to have the skill to understand and comprehend children’s art experience and lead the process to connect it to the subject learning. The teacher may intervene and say “let’s follow the river to find its source!” and suggest movements, music and colour to locate the source of the river, unfolding the constructivist teaching learning approach. Though the art experience is flexible, and children do learn in the process of experimentation and exploration, a broad frame of teacher preparation will be crucial for the effective implementation of AIL. The potential of AIL is best realized by capacity building and readiness of all stakeholders. Hence, the following steps are recommended for effective implementation of AIL:
Capacity Building : Introducing art as a resource will require re-orienting the school system in the use of it as pedagogical tool. All stakeholders of school education, including the school management need to be oriented to understand the importance and the relevance of this pedagogy. Capacity building here refers to any effort being made to improve the understanding, skills of educators and others to implement AIL in their school. It reduces a school’s reliance on outside support or services, by building their internal capacity. Teacher-training workshops and teacher observation programmes should be undertaken to bring about a paradigm shift in the ways students learn and the ways teachers approach teaching and learning. This means that teachers will themselves have a deeper conceptual understanding of the content they are expected to teach and the pedagogical know how with suitable skills to create appropriate learning environment.
Planning of Activities : Once the teacher begins to utilise AIL methodology, she would need to work on the dynamics of planning. AIL would require linking art experience to the subject matter seamlessly and to identify methods and techniques to engage children in group activities. Teacher’s preplanning; familiarity with the subject combined with attention to guiding and reviewing children’s responses will keep the journey on track.
As recommended by NCF 2005, all the education at this stage should be through arts: drawing, painting, clay modelling, singing, actions or movements. It further emphasizes that 90% of the curriculum must be art oriented. Therefore, while planning activities for this stage, the teacher must keep the above criteria in mind. Another important point for this stage is to focus on the process and not on the product. Suggested activities are :
While planning activities for this stage, focus should be on using locally available, age appropriate materials such as pebbles, seeds and beads, leaves, flowers, sand, clay, sea shells, feathers, wood sticks, tree barks, natural colours, etc.
At the primary stage, arts should be integrated with all subjects and used as an approach for teaching and learning of different concepts. This will help children freely express their ideas and emotions. They will also develop all the senses through keen observation, curious exploration and spontaneous expression. As is the system in most of our primary schools, one teacher teaches all subjects to her class which gives her the freedom and scope to plan art experiences in a way that cater to learning of multiple disciplines. While planning activities for this stage, the teacher should keep in mind that:
At the upper primary stage, emphasis should be laid on the use of learner’s own imagination and development of their creative expressions. It is suggested that children of this stage work together in teams for their socio-emotional development and enhancement of life skills (inter-personal communication, collaboration and cooperation, respect for diversity and appreciation for each other’s perspective, developing leadership skills, problem solving abilities etc.). As this age group is the beginning of adolescence, their growing up concerns are also addressed naturally and effectively through integration of arts.
The existence of a strong collaboration between teachers of different subjects, including those of art education is important while planning Art Integrated Learning activities. This will help teachers to manage teaching-learning time efficiently and promote interdisciplinary approach which leads to holistic learning.
While planning activities for this stage, the teacher needs to see that:
Art education with its inherent quality of involving the learner has possibilities for being a satisfying medium of creative expression. The learner is both the performer and the observer of the performance where the process stimulates his/her mind.
AIl activity plan is a suggestive format, which is flexible in nature. Teachers may think and prepare their own plans while keeping in mind the need of the learning situation. The suggested format is based on the commonly used format for AIL activities in the field:
Proper planning of resources adds a novelty to the art integrated experience. Regular research and extensive groundwork by the teacher helps them to create a rich repository of resources which include regional/local resources. The resources should be easy to use and convenient to procure as their easy availability will ensure increased frequency of usage. The teachers should be aware of the content available online and its appropriate application. While selecting the resources, especially the physical ones, one should be confident of the fact that there is flexibility in the choice of resources.
Material Resources : While planning and selecting material and equipment for AIL activities one can practice thumb rule of following five points – resources should be
Few examples of material as resource are:
Community Resources : Ways and forums to involve the local community meaningfully must be devised to develop a healthy and proactive community-school partnership. When provided with opportunities to interact with local/regional artisans, students enhance their sensitivity and awareness towards the indigenous cultural heritage. For example, school authorities may invite local weavers, potters and different service providers so that students may have an intimate engagement with them. Families of the children may also be involved in a positive manner with the school to support learning of children. For effective and meaningful community participation it is recommended that periodic field trips/excursions are included to visit places like hospitals, post office, bus depots, railway stations, etc.
Space : It has been seen that in the traditional set up learning is very often confined to specific areas: whereas in AIL, it is recommended that the teacher needs to become more flexible while selecting and using learning spaces. Spaces/places should be such which provide children with an opportunity to explore, experiment, create and express themselves freely. For example, walls of buildings, staircases, school stage, school rooftops, field and garden areas etc. can be utilized for the same.
Class room is the space that becomes a fertile ground for learning if utilized and managed appropriately. Given below are some suggestions for effective classroom management:
If practiced in true spirit, the above will not only help children to develop a sense of ownership of their classroom and school but can also transform them into learners for life.
Every classroom should have a dedicated space for display of the children’s art works as it plays an important role in igniting the interest and eagerness to learn more. It also helps children to analyse and appreciate their own works and also of others. Some suggestions for a meaningful display are as follows: