Is , as Strand (2006) argues, the curriculum transformation to implement holistic learning? Robinson (2011) argues we need a transformation in education rather than another reformation. Is collaboration essential, or even possible, for transformation? And why do we need holistic learning practices in our schools? What does it mean to teach for holistic learning? Many respected education theorists, business leaders, even leaders of great nations demand educational systems to produce innovators (Berger, 2014) to secure the future of our today’s way of living. It is argued that teaching for innovation with collaboration requires schools to take artistic practices as serious as traditional “academic” subject practices. This may call for a paradigm shift in thinking about arts education. It should be communicated and understood by the public that arts education can “engage students in larger ethical questions, intellectual, affective, and kinaesthetic learning…to promote thinking skills…or emotional engagement” (Strand, pg. 39) if your artist teacher can do this. Many art educational programmes already have. This may be evident to artist teachers, governmental and business leaders who keep up with pedagogical developments and who have engaged for years in understanding collaboration, but to those who have not informed themselves in the last 20 years may find it hard to think about arts education as something other than “arts and crafts.” Therefore there is a need to communicate “the value of arts integration” and
its great potential to help learners experience learning as a holistic endeavour that connects their personal feelings with intellectual and physical skill development (Strand, 2006, pg. 29).
Strand explores the concept of arts integration in her 2006 paper The Heart and the Journey. She looks deeply at a school that pairs up artist teachers with non-artist teachers. They are to collaborate and teach using an artistic “process of critical and creative thinking” (pg.29). In her research she found academic ssubject teachers sometimes found it difficult to teach in this style, as they did not understand it and some even still fought with the idea of using artistic processes in academics. In the collaboration between artist teacher and academic teacher Strand (2006) found 4 themes that held the utmost importance in a successful collaboration.
“Organizational Philosophy and Goals” (pg. 36) must be at the heart of the programme
“Teacher Characteristics… had to be balanced” (pg. 36)
“Relationships…developed and protected” by administrators (pg. 37)
“Focus on Process… rather than simply on imparting artistic skills and concepts” (pg. 37)
She presents two different cases and argues arts integration to be a “holistic learning experience (s) addressing cognitive, physical, moral, affective, and spiritual dimensions of their (the students) lives.” Although the students expressed great value in learning to think differently, gaining new perspectives and finding their own answers they still expressed a disappointment with the “lack of grades” (pg. 35) awarded. The students do not receive grades for these classes but the teachers meet curriculum standards all the same. It has been argued that traditional education processes engage students to compete for grades, not for new knowledge. Leavy argues,
An artist develops and refines affective, intuitive, aesthetic, and relational ways of knowing. Knowledge internalized through experience of engaging in creative process is a key value that an artist can bring to educational research (Leavy, 2009, pg. 250).
The author argues that if artist teachers can communicate and change arts education first within their own faculty it will ease the transition or transformation of education in general. If artist teachers themselves can learn to collaborate and work trust based then it will ease their relationship building with all faculty. However it does seem that artist teachers will have to be the ones who implement change. The leap is far shorter for us than it is for traditional academics.
Berger, C. (2014). Ignoring Art Academically. MEd. University West of Scotland.
Egan, K. (1989). Teaching as story telling. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
hooks, b. (2010). Teaching critical thinking. New York: Routledge.
Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds. Oxford: Capstone.
Strand, K. (2006). The Heart and the Journey: Case Studies of Collaboration for Arts