ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Learning In and Through the Arts

After analyzing four years of data, we know that of the five tenets of a whole child approach to education, "engagement" is the tenet that whole child supporters are most interested in. A major factor in ensuring each student is healthy, safe, supported, and challenged is engaging them in the process of building each critical dimension.

For example, school leaders can choose to ban cell phones because of cyberbullying concerns, but that response treats the symptom rather than the problem and does not engage students in the process of creating a safe place. Alternatively, giving students the opportunity to create a play that illuminates the realities of cyberbullying allows them to construct and demonstrate their understanding of its effects. How might we consistently engage students in the process of making their schools and communities safer places, healthier environments, more supportive climates, and more rigorous and challenging learning cultures?

Research and years of experience reinforce the power of integrating the arts to engage students in every dimension of learning and development. Arts integration has been defined by teaching artists, teachers, education specialists, and leading arts organizations as "an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form." When the arts are integrated, students are more engaged because they take on a more active role in learning by experiencing things directly and expressing themselves in multiple ways. They are challenged to take what they learn, build a deeper understanding, and then do something with it. When the arts are integrated well, students are involved in making decisions about their learning. But you don't have to take our word about the power of integrating the arts.

According to the Search Institute, interviews with several thousand U.S. teenagers yielded more than 200 different inspirations that enrich teens' lives, excite them, and tap into their true passions. In the top 10 were participating in or leading art, dance, drama, music, writing, or other creative arts activities. Researcher, author, and consultant Robert Marzano states, "One is struck by the superior findings reported for visual and dramatic instruction over verbal instruction in terms of the percentage of information recalled by students one year after the completion of the unit."

This month on, we're focusing on the power of engaging students in learning through the arts. Join us as we continue to change the conversation about how learning can and should take place inside and outside the classroom—and learn about and contribute resources, ideas, inspiration, and examples of arts integration on the Whole Child Blog and this month's Whole Child Podcast.

Comments (6)

Elizabeth Peterson

October 19, 2010

This is great! I absolutely agree with all of what you say and am a firm believer in the power of arts integration and implementing a method where students learn about, through and with the arts.

I actually am in the middle of a two month blog series on Arts Integration at .  There are so many educators who are yearning to put these strategies into practice.  It is my hope that through my series, your series, this wonderful website and the great podcast you have created, (as well as a multitude of other resources) teachers will gain the confidence to do what they feel in their heart: infuse their teaching with the arts.

I am very much looking forward to reading more!

The Arts in Education « Rethinking Education

October 20, 2010

[...] and emotions in the learning process, as we are reminded in the ASCD’s Whole Child Blog post, Learning In and Through the Arts, by Jessica [...]

Sirce Kwai Giveon

October 20, 2010

I am a believer of Whole Child education. For example, the opportunity arose inviting me and my school to a writing contest for “naming the baby alligator” at the local nature center. As the Art Teacher, I took the lead to turn this into a major project involving 3rd Grade Language Arts, 3rd Grade Science with vocabulary from their text, and of course Art. The finalists will be brought to the Center and celebrated. The winners will be photographed and celebrated in the local newspapers.
My purpose in picking the 3rd Graders is because according to statistics, the success of a 3rd Grader will determine college entry. This type of project is a large undertaking of my personal time and travel but I believe it is worth it. In creating it, I’m setting up a template and can create a Web Meeting or Web Class and invite other teachers from other schools to learn how to organize this type of Arts integration.


October 21, 2010

[...] just finished reading a post by Jessica Wakefield called,  “Learning In and Through the Arts.” In it, she discusses the whole child and the importance of students’ engagement with the [...]

Jessica @ ASCD

October 21, 2010

Sirce, Your project sounds wonderful! We’d love to share the template with others when you’ve finished. Please email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) when you’ve finished.

Learning With, Through and About Art

October 23, 2010

[...] my last post, on Engagement, I was responding to a post by Jessica Wakefield  called,  “Learning In and Through the Arts.”  The title reminded me of a text I was reading for an “Arts and Learning” CAGS course [...]

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