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Featured GraphicPicture This: Art Every Day!


Enrich Learning with Discipline-Based Art Education

The aim of art education in the public schools is not to make more professional artists but to teach people to live happier, fuller lives; to extract more out of their experience, whatever that experience may be.

  -- Grant Wood, "Art in the Daily Life of the Child"

"Be Smart, Include Art," encourages the National Parent Teacher Association with its program by that name.

"Learning about the visual arts gives students a window onto the rich and interesting world around them, teaching them about their own history and culture, as well as those of other people." Plus, the PTA reminds us, it's a visual world out there. "In a world in which ideas and information are often delivered visually, children need to learn how to analyze and judge the meaning of images and how to use them to communicate their own ideas."

Still, most schools have seen their art programs slashed to ribbons over the past decade. What's a teacher to do? Make a tapestry! Using discipline-based art education, weave art throughout the curriculum for a richly textured educational experience.

Discipline-based art education, advocated by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts, is an approach to instruction rather than a specific curriculum.

"As more and more business leaders are coming to realize, rote memorization and multiple choice answers do not adequately prepare students for the global marketplace," says Leilani Lattin Duke, director of the institute. "Art is a subject that encourages children to think critically, solve problems creatively, make evaluations, work within groups, and appreciate different points of view. These skills are particularly suited to the complex challenges of the contemporary workplace."

Integrating art education into the curriculum also provides opportunities for students whose visual skills are stronger than their verbal abilities, says award-winning art educator Mary Parks, a teacher in Naperville Community School District 203 in Naperville, Ill.

"When I was in elementary school, my illustration for a book report was a much more personal response to reading than anything I could write," Parks says. "Since all of our students learn and express themselves in various ways, we need to provide opportunities in our classrooms for all learners."

Parks advocates art centers in the classroom as a "neat way" to integrate the arts throughout the curriculum while meeting the needs of tactile and visual learners.

Incorporating arts education into the curriculum is also in line with Goals 2000, a national education initiative that provides grant money to states for local school improvements. More than 100 national organizations are participating in the Goals 2000 Arts Education Partnership to promote the arts as a pathway to improving education. For information and assistance, write: The Goals 2000 Arts Education Partnership, National Endowment for the Arts, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 515, Washington, D.C., 20506.

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Article by Colleen Newquist
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