Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where does art integration reside?

Art integration happens on many levels. From the federal grants and policies all the way into the water color brush in the student's hand. But, the work we've done over the last eight years, the research, the observations in classrooms and assessment of student performance all point in one direction. Arts integration is a classroom phenomena and it resides in the details- the how of that classroom practice.
All art educators and most writing ones have for decades focused on process. Our conclusion is very much the same- process is at the heart of what we do. We work with our teachers on transforming their practice- the processes that they use to enable student learning, the processes they use to teach. This is not a one way street because every time we interact with a teacher thinking about their process we learn something ourselves that changes the way we work with that teacher but also with the ones that come after her.
At the same I do not want to imply that we must be present and understand everything about the process to understand the product. In many ways the analysis of products: writing, visual art, and music over the past eight years have confirmed the fact that the products correspond to the process. That is you can judge the quality of classroom practice by the products.
Without an understanding of the process, however, you cannot pin down the reasons for the outcomes. As a result a good evaluation and research must include a clear look at both.
As this administration focuses, and rightly so, on teacher performance and development it is useful to remember that it is the details that count.
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