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ArtsIntegrationandStudentsAtRisk

Imagineaworldwithoutcolor,movement,music,orindividualexpression.
Whatdoyousee?Withoutthesedynamicelementsthemarvelouswondersboth
naturalandmanmadeabundantacrosstheglobearestrippedofsignificanceandthe
powertoinfluenceandinspireimaginationandinnovation.Aworldoncealivewith
energyandpassionisrenderedableakandhopelessplace.Nowimagineaschool
withoutthearts.Whatdoyousee?
Aschoolwithouttheartsislikeanemptywell.Justasthirstybodies
approachawellinhopesoffindingcoolrefreshingwater,hungrymouths,hearts,
andmindswalkthroughschooldoorsinsearchofnourishment,fulfillment,and
guidance.Formanystudents,especiallythoseatrisk,schoolprovidesarefuge,an
escape,oranimpetusforchange.InTeachingwiththeBraininMind,Jensen
suggested,Giveaschooldailydance,music,drama,andvisualartinstructionwhere
thereisconsiderablemovement,andyoumightgetamiracle(ascitedinHotvedt,
2001,p.71).
Allchildrencraveopportunitiestoacquireknowledgeandexpress
themselvesindiverseandauthenticways.Integratingtheartsintothecore
curriculumisbeneficialforallstudentsandespeciallypowerfulforthosewho
struggletoadaptandachievesuccess.Alltoooftenthesestudentsarelabeledas
beingunabletolearnandforgottenbyeducatorswhochoosetoinvesttheirtimein
childrenperceivedashavingstrongerpotential.AccordingtoRabkinandRedmond
(2006),artsintegrationisaninstructionalstrategythatbringstheartsintothe
coreoftheschooldayandconnectstheartsacrossthecurriculum(p.60).For

childrenatriskofacademicandsocialfailure,theartsprovidepowerfullearning
experiences,demandcreativity,andtransformstudentattitudesandachievement.
AsHotvedt(2001)stated,Toovercomethebarrierstolearningthatpovertymay
create,studentsneedtohaveatalentorskillthattakesthemtoanewenvironment
andamentorwhotakesaninterestinthemandprovidesemotionalsupportwhile
theyarestilllearning(p.71).
Learningintraditionalwaysisanespeciallyburdensomechallengefor
studentsatrisk.Encouragingandenablingchildrentodiscoverandcultivatethe
uniquegiftstheypossessstimulatescreativityandbringsnewlifeandmeaningto
school.Hotvedt(2001)noted,Childrenwholackstimulationfromtouchand
physicalmovementseekotherwaystosatisfytheirbrain,usuallythrough
aggressionandviolence.Thesechildrenneeddailyphysicalactivityintheir
learning(p.71).Whenstudentsaregiventheopportunitytomoveandexpress
themselvesinmeaningfulwaysthroughthearts,academicperformance,class
attendance,problemsolvingskills,socialdevelopment,andpositivebehaviorall
increaseaccordingtoAmericansfortheArts(ascitedinBoldt&Brooks,2006,p.
223).BoldtandBrooks(2006)emphasized,Thecreativeartshaveproventobe
especiallyhelpfulbyfosteringpositiverelationships,academicmotivation,
responsibility,andaclimateofrespect(p.223).Further,Catterallfoundanarts
integratedcurriculumcorrelatedwithimprovedgrades,higherstandardizedtest
scores,improvedattendance,moreinterestinschool,fewerhoursoftelevision,and
increasedcommunityserviceinvolvement(ascitedinBoldt&Brooks,2006,p.
223).Withprovensuccessstoriestolighttheway,administratorsandeducators

shouldbeeagerandwillingtoestablishanddeliveranintegratedartscurriculum
capableofreachingandinspiringeverystudenttoachievegreatersuccessinthe
coresubjectsofEnglishLanguageArts,Math,Science,andSocialStudiesbywayof
thearts,anoftenoverlookedsubjectoffundamentalimportanceandadesirable
competenceforallchildren.
Artsintegrationfostersthedevelopmentofvaluablelifeskillsrarelytaught
inschool.Theseskills,morecommonlylearnedinthehome,areappropriately
modeledbyeducatorsandthenexpectedofstudentsthroughouttheschoolday.
RespressandLutfi(2006)stated,Fineartsrequirehigherorderthinkingskills,
individualandgroupefforts,andanatmosphereofcontrolledfreedomthatteaches
responsibility(p.25).AccordingtoRespressandLutfi(2006),Thefineartscanbe
definedasmusic,visualarts,drama,dance,andliterature/creativewritingand
learningthefineartsengagesthestudentintwomodesofdoingthataretypically
beyondthemeaningofstudyasusedinthetraditionalclassroom(p.26).Thefirst
modeisperformance,beitdance,amonologue,orsharingthepersonalrelevanceof
aparticularpieceofvisualart.Performanceisanexcitingcomponentofarts
integrationformanystudents.Itdemandsparticipationandmeaningfulreflection
whereasatraditionalmultiplechoicetestrequiresnothingmorethanthe
memorizationofrotefactsortheregurgitationofunlearnedmaterial.Thesecond
modeoffineartsinstructioniscreativeaction.Studentsmustimagineandvisualize
aproduct,decidehowtocreateit,andthendeviseandexecuteastepbystepplan
ofactiontobringittofruition(Respress&Lutfi,2006,p.26).

Theimportanceofartsintegrationissupportedbyanabundanceofresearch
andsignificantevidence.Insupportofmusic,RauscherandShawconfirmedan
unmistakablecausallinkbetweenmusicandspatialintelligenceandCatterall
emphasizedSpatialreasoningisinvolvedinmanyotherthings,suchassolving
mathematicalproblemsandcreativescientificprocessesandtheabilitytoplanmost
anything(ascitedinRespress&Lutfi,2006,p.26).Insupportofdrama,Catterall
revealedDramashowsconsistenteffectsonnarrativeunderstandingaswellason
componentskills:identifyingcharacteristics,understandingcharactermotivations,
readingandwritingskills,andinterpersonalskillssuchasdealingwithconflictand
DickinsonnotedDramadevelopsquickwittedspontaneousthinking,problem
solvingability,poiseandpresence,concentration,andbothconceptualand
analyticalthinkingskills(ascitedinRespress&Lutfi,2006,p.26).Insupportof
dance,Dickinsonstatedpracticingandlearningcomplexrhythmicalpatterns
stimulatesandenergizesthewholemindbodysystemandCatterallconcluded
Dancecontributestoincreasedselfconfidence,persistence,socialtolerance,and
appreciationofindividualandgroupsocialdevelopment(ascitedinRespress&
Lutfi,2006,p.26).Insupportofthevisualarts,RespressandLutfi(2006)noted,
Researchonthevisualartsindicatesthatthehumanbrainhasavisualcortexthat
isfivetimeslargerthantheauditorycortex(p.26).AccordingtoBrooke,Drawing
uponthecontentofscience,geography,andsocialstudieslessonsresultedin
noticeabledifferencesinspeedoflearningandretention(ascitedinRespress&
Lutfi,2006,p.26).RespressandLutfi(2006)stated,Districtshavereportedas

muchas20%increasesinreading,writing,andmathscoresasaresultofthese
visualartsexperiences(p.27).
Notonlydoesartsintegrationfosteracademicachievement,accordingto
Fiskengagementintheartsnurturesthedevelopmentofcognitive,social,and
personalcompetencies(ascitedinRespress&Lutfi,2006,p.26).Respressand
Lutficoncluded,Artsprogramscanhelpdecreaseyouthinvolvementindelinquent
behaviorandimproveyouthsattitudesaboutthemselvesandthefuture(p.27).
Inresponsetothesefindings,IagreewithRespressandLutfi(2006)who
statedacookiecutterapproachtoeducatingstudentsoftenprevails:onesizefits
all.Studentsarerushedthroughabasiccurriculumdesignedforstudentswith
homogenouslearningstyleswithoutconsiderationofatypicallearningstyles.This
leadstoboredom,underachievement,anddisciplineproblems(p24).Traditional
curriculumandinstructionfailstomeetstudentswheretheyareaschildrenwho
craveadventureandengagingopportunitiestoexplorethemselvesandtheworld
aroundthem,longforauthenticexperiencesthatstimulatemindandbody,and
searchforrelevantconnectionsanddiversemeansofexpressingtheirownunique
feelingsandperspectives.Artsintegrationencourages,enables,andexpectsthe
characteristicsofcuriosityandcreativityaliveineverychild,valuesdifferences,and
cultivatestheuniquegiftsofalllearners.Theartsinspirestudentsfromallwalksof
life,nomattertheirability,toachievesuccessinschoolanddiscovertheendless
hopeabundantinlife.
Artsintegrationbringslifetotheclassroom,colorsschoolhallwayswith
expression,andfillsgymnasiumsandauditoriumswithmovement,sound,and

excitement.Artsintegrationchallengesteacherstoengagethewholechildand
inspiresstudentstothinkinnewandinnovativeways.Artsintegrationimpacts
everychildbyleveragingtheuniquegiftsstudentsbringtoschoolasvaluableandis
especiallyrewardingforstudentsatriskastheartshavethepowertobroadentheir
experiencesandreshapetheirphilosophyofschoolandtheeducationalprocess.
AccordingtoNewman,Thiskindofworkisinterestingandmeaningful,promotes
higherlevelsofengagement,raisesstudentsintrinsicstandards,andmotivates
studentstoinvesttheenergythatlearningrequiresofthem(ascitedinRabkin&
Redmond,2006,p.63).Again,imagineaschoolwithoutthearts.Insteadofthinking
aboutwhatyoudosee,considerwhatyoudonotsee.

References

Boldt,R.W.&Brooks,C.(2006).CreativeArts:StrengtheningAcademicsand
BuildingCommunitywithStudentsAtRisk.TheJournalofStrengthbased
Interventions,14(4),223227.

Hotvedt,R.(2001).IntheArtsSpotlight.EducationalLeadership,59(2),70
73.

Rabkin,N.&Redmond,R.(2006).TheArtsMakeaDifference.Educational
Leadership,63(5),6064.

Respress,T.&Lutfi,G.(2006).WholeBrainLearning:TheFineArtswithStudentsat
Risk.TheJournalofStrengthbasedInterventions,15(1),2431.