Mr. Brad Scott
Board Member at King Chavez Neighborhood of Schools
Dear Mr. Scott:
It has come to my attention that you have concerns with integrating arts into the curriculum. I would like to take this time to show you what I have collected along the way of learning more about how important integrating the arts can be and the positive impact it will have on any classroom and school as a whole. We have been looking for something to help raise test scores, to help students become critical thinkers and to allow for each student to grow as individuals and be prepared in this competitive society. Integrating arts into the curriculum will be our ticket to getting all of these things accomplished. Right now, we have art class isolated as a separate subject. Although I do understand that we should be thankful that the district hasn’t cut our arts program, we should be taking advantage of this by trying to use the arts as a process to connect teaching subjects in the classroom. Teaching through the arts not only supports a positive learning environment, but it will address student-centered learning and will impact the diverse learning needs of each student. I will explain and give examples of significant instructional strategies that are based on practicing integrating the arts along with culturally responsive pedagogy. I will also discuss how students learning styles and multiple perspectives are encouraged. Lastly, I will show evidence of academic and cognitive outcomes of a lesson I have taught using the arts and how the instruction was linked to state standards. My new knowledge and understanding of integrating the arts and multiple intelligence approaches to classroom learning impact my every day teaching and has enabled me to take my teaching to a higher level. As I’ve read in the book, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong (2009):
Multiple Intelligence theory makes its greatest contribution to education by suggesting that teachers need to expand their repertoire of techniques, tools, and strategies beyond the typical linguistic and logical ones predominantly used in American classrooms. MI theory provides a broad range of stimulating curricula to “awaken” the slumbering brains that Goodland fears populate our nation’s schools. (p.54-55)
“Slumbering brains” is a great description of students in an every day classroom in America. The teacher stands in the front of the room and talks at the students almost all day. There is hardly any learning going on. These students’ brains are just being filled with information instead of their passion being ignited! Then, the practice that the teachers are giving to the students that supposedly supports the lesson is a worksheet out of a workbook. Armstrong (2009) believes that, “The federal government’s No Child Left Behind law has created a climate in which standardized tests, and standardized methods to prepare for them, have overwhelmed the landscape in schools across the United States” (p.55). Most schools are now so worried about standardized tests that they have begun to teach to the test. They have begun to steer their direction of teaching students from becoming educated, successful, creative and competitive community members to just good test-takers. At what cost is this? In my opinion, we are dumbing down our kids and not allowing their creativity to blossom and take shape. Studies show that our actual peak of creativity happens in fifth grade. In fifth grade! We really need to take this into account as we start to plan for the upcoming year. We need to think about what we really want for our students and who we want them to become.
Creating a safe environment in which students can freely experiment their passions through their MI and the arts along with connecting it to key standards in the curriculum is key for our students to be successful. It shouldn’t just be connected, though; it should be...