25. What Is Arts Integrated Education?
Part One – Integration
What is the premise of education? That is a good place to start. Or even better still, what is the premise of being human? Woah! Hold on! That might be going too far for the purpose of these writings – which is to give encouragement to parents and teachers to be inspired educators in the 21st century. (It’s a good question nevertheless!)
What is the premise of education now?
Well, as you know, there are many, many answers to that question. The dynamic range of existing education models and philosophies is proof… Montessori, Waldorf, Holistic, Core Knowledge, International Baccalaureate, Progressive, Religious… Essential Schools, Unschooling, Home schooling…the list goes on…
Every one of these education models addresses the question in its own way. Each one is valuable. The question still remains. Given what we understand about human development in 2009, what is the premise of education now?
The focus of this article is to do with the idea of integration as essential to human education.
To open up the subject of integration, here is an example:
Our oldest son went to an Integrated Studies focus school in Boulder, Colorado for first and second grades. His teacher’s interpretation and application of the idea of integrated studies was remarkable.
Every summer she would actually go to live in a foreign country. Not just any country. It would have to be able to fulfill the requirements of her next year’s curriculum. So for example, for teaching second grade she went to live in Greece for most of the summer. Then she embarked on an immersion study of everything Greek that applied to her 2nd grade curriculum – history, art and architecture, mathematics, music, drama, philosophy and of course, literature!
Now she could integrate several disciplines in the study of one subject – Ancient Greece: science, math, social studies, language arts, history, dance, drama and music! It was brilliant!
Granted, not every teacher can afford or has the time to travel to a foreign land to gen up on their curricular focus for the coming year. But the idea of a multi-disciplinary approach with an integrated focus on one theme is possible in most education environments.
That’s one example of integration in response to the big question – what is the premise of education?
Education is not a static thing. Human beings are not filing cabinets designed to be stored up with information. We also know that there is huge difference between explaining something, like the history of civil rights in the U.S.A., and actually ‘teaching’ the subject by integrated enlivenment.
This is the inspiring challenge that faces every educator today!