Art Integrated Learning (AIL) is a teaching-learning model which is based on learning ‘through the arts’ and ‘with the arts’: it is a process where art becomes the medium of teaching-learning, a key to understanding concepts within any subject of the curriculum.
Learners explore creatively while building connections between different concepts through various art forms. Art experiences, both in visual (drawing and painting, clay modelling, pottery, paper crafts, mask and puppet making, heritage crafts etc.) and performing arts (music, dance, theatre, puppetry etc.) lead to a better understanding and construction of knowledge about different concepts. Arts have the flexibility to accommodate age-appropriate opportunities for learners who can explore at their individual pace. This resonates with the experiential learning approach.
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:
Pre - Primary
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:
The following steps are recommended for effective implementation of AIL
1. 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.
2. 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.
Stage Wise Planning of AIL Activities
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. 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.
While planning activities for this stage, the teacher needs to see that:
3. Planning of time
Time management at every stage is an important aspect of teachers’ professional competence and productivity. Teachers can sometimes find it challenging to take out time for organizing art experiences, due to paucity of time. This can compromise the creation of a joyful and experiential learning environment. On the contrary there are interesting time-slots availabe in schools such as morning assembly, festivals of celebrations, special assemblies and excursions, which can be utilised for mass art experiences and can be easily linked to the subject content and learning outcomes.
4. Resource Planning
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. While selecting the resources, especially the physical ones, one should be confident of the fact that there is flexibility in the choice of resources.
Types 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
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.
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.
Assessment through art integrated learning helps the facilitator to move away from the traditional paper-pencil or oral and recall method towards a continuous and comprehensive assessment method which can help assess both the learning of the subject as well as the socio-emotional development of the student. It helps to democratize the process of assessment, in which students are offered multiple modes to express their learning. Hence, it becomes an effective tool for both competencies-based learning and to assess the competency- based learning.