Looking at certain aspects of history, politics, and other content relevant to the social sciences through art—either by observing or creating it—encourages students to think more critically as they explore the subject from various angles. Through the Arts, students can explore opinions about the facts and consider possibilities about their affect on the people involved. When the Arts are observed or performed in relation with acquiring new knowledge, it becomes a personal experience rather than an exercise in rote memorization because the focus is placed on the theme rather than the data.
Students learn at different rates and through different means. The Arts provide the ability for teachers to address each student’s learning style effectively. There are three main types of learners, and each can benefit by approaching Social Studies with the application of the visual and performing arts.
These learners take in information through sight as they observe what they’re being taught. They learn best when able to watch the teacher’s expressions and decipher visual aides like graphs and charts. They tend to scribble copious notes and often formulate their thoughts as images.
In the application of the Arts to instruction, visual learners can garner a lot of meaning by analyzing a painting or sculpture, for example. They formulate new knowledge by exploring information and ideas, and are then able to pass that interpretation on to other students by sharing observations and new opinions about the subject.