SchoolArts Magazine

JAN 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 7 Co-Editor's Letter Andrew D. Watson, fine arts instructional specialist for Alexandria City Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia. T hese are exciting times to be an art educator! For too long, art has been regarded as an add-on, great but not necessary to the education of our youth. Across the nation, businesses, parents, and other educators are starting to see the vital nature of what we do—how we inspire and motivate our students. They see how we deepen learning and nurture the Five Cs and higher-order learning. Entire districts are adopting arts integration and STEAM programs. Other educators are turning to us to help them understand Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Performance-Based Assessment (PBA). But are we equipped to lead? Do we know why what we do is so vital? How does art connect, and to what? Let's look at two important interdisciplinary approa- ches—arts integration and STEAM. In arts integration, the arts are used to deliver non-arts content while including authentic arts learning. This is accomplished primarily through instructional art strategies. This includes prac- tices like learning language-arts skills such as inference by looking at and talking about paintings, or sequencing through creating a comic strip. It includes demonstrating knowledge of science or social studies concepts by creat- ing a tableau or choreographing an interpretive dance. In arts integration, the arts infuse every lesson and unify the school day. STEAM is similar, but art holds a different position of importance on the programmatic level. Here, art is equal to the other individual STEAM disciplines, and in a non-arts classroom may not be present in every STEAM project. However, art is still valued highly in authentic STEAM classrooms, and along with engineering, is often the avenue to make the lessons hands-on. Teaching strategies such as PBL and PBA are also important topics for art teachers. While these two strate- gies are not unique to art and do not require art content to implement, they are tightly connected to art pedagogy. While most art teachers do not follow PBL exactly, most of us teach primarily through projects. PBL refines this but is very similar to what we already do. PBA is similar. Most non-art teachers assess primarily through multiple choice, right-or-wrong questions. This is anathema to most art teachers! We know that art is ambiguous and has far more right answers than wrong ones. Most of us never stopped using rubrics to quantify qualitative data, and now every- one else wants to figure out how to do it! So, what does art bring to non-arts content? Most non-arts teachers acknowledge that art brings engagement. Research also shows that it helps students who have difficulty learn - ing through more "traditional" methods. The worst thing you can do to a student who is having trouble learning through ditto sheets is to give them more ditto sheets! Art also teaches those soft skills that help students take control of their learning and become deeper thinkers. Cri - tique and reflection teach students to become more resilient and nurture a growth mindset. Coming up with multiple ideas for a project and multiple solutions to an art problem pushes students to become creative and critical thinkers. However, art makes more than content and soft-skill connections. It connects us to our humanity. Making and expressing are fundamental to who we are as humans. This transcends all cultures and time periods. It is just as true in the Islamic Republic of Iran as in the State of Israel. It was true more than 40,000 years ago when our ancestors made the earliest known cave paintings, and it will be true in millennia into the future when our descendants create artwork that we cannot even dream of. This is because art connects all.

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