Archived Information

Transforming Ideas for Teaching and Learning The Arts - March 1997

Enriching the Experiences of All Children as They Study Literature, History, Geography, Foreign Languages, Math, or Science Is a Gift Arts Specialists Offer the School.

"All the evidence points to a relationship between the arts and the other academic disciplines that is clear and compelling, indicating to both fields that one cannot really flourish without the influence of the other."
Ross 44
"Given . . . assistance, classroom teachers can become expert at integrating the arts into the teaching of their regular subject matter."
Fowler 45
"Vocabulary and reading comprehension were significantly improved for elementary students in the 'Arts Alternatives' program in New Jersey."

Variety is the spice that the arts can contribute to almost any subject. The integration of the arts with the rest of the curriculum is an asset that schools must find a way to use, despite the administrative problems such interaction may present.

Martin Luther wanted all teachers to be musical. So did Harriet Beecher Stowe's husband, Charles, and her brother, Calvin, who advised the Ohio legislature to define a "professional teacher" as one who could teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and music. Over the years, this advice has not been followed, except that most elementary teachers have had some introduction to the teaching of music and art.

Arts specialists, charged with developing arts skills, can help classroom teachers make disciplines such as history or literature come alive and cultural comparisons meaningful. They can make the principles of geometry or symmetry more real, and they can sharpen the vision of science.


Fourth grade students at John Eliot Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts, adopt historical characters and act out their personalities. They study the character, dress like the character, and dramatize the character's personality and events in his or her life. 47

In Fairfax County, Virginia, a goal for students in grades 6-8 is to experience interdisciplinary learning by connecting the visual arts with other subject areas. One of the suggestions is to coordinate with the English teacher to have students read The Invisible Man when studying African-American art. Another is to integrate art and mathematics by looking at tessellations in Islamic and Moorish art, American patchwork quilts, and the work of M.C. Escher. Students would be asked "to notice how the geometric shapes tessellate to create a pattern." 48

[Arts Specialists are Educators Who are Also Skilled in at Least One Arts Discipline] [Table of Contents] [A Major Asset of the Arts in Education is to Make Schools a More Engaging Learning Environment]