The Arts and the Local in Education
The arts are the voice and expression of a people. They connect the local with the human. Educators, however, rarely acknowledge place, nor do they integrate the arts into daily lessons and activities. Typical academic standards shun the local and confine the arts to their own subject areas. Most commonly the arts are thought of as “specials,” taught out of context with history, science, and literature. Students are taught facts of the far-away, information that has little relevance to them. Additionally, many people access and represent learning most effectively through the arts. Separating arts from academics deprives students of the chance to interact with learning in imaginative and meaningful ways.
If teacher educators want teachers to teach the local and integrate the arts into their curriculum, they need to provide experiences in both the local and the arts. As a teacher educator, I have used skits and role plays, music, drawing, and writing. I also assign walks, scavenger hunts, and trips to a nature area. Recently we visited an art studio. Engagement in these experiences provides concrete experiences that my students can integrate into their instruction. In a discussion with students in a social studies methods class, students noted that they had learned to “think outside the box” (i.e. textbook and test), to use role plays, to allow students to represent their learning using the arts, and to incorporate the local. This presentation will be a summary of my tentative steps to incorporate the arts and the local in teacher education and what I have accomplished so far. Handouts will be provided.
Keywords: Arts in Education, Place in Education
Prof. Louise Conn Fleming
Professor of Education, Department of Educational Foundations, Ashland University