Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Place of Integrated Arts Courses in Preservice Elementary Education

This week Deborah Loewenberg-Ball visited UNL and gave a talk on the place of Schools of Education in Research Universities. You can access the powerpoint of the talk here, and soon we hope to have a video up.

One notion that I find very interesting now, as I coordinate our Elementary Education preservice program at UNL is the notion of our programs as "labs of practice in which we explore and research new and innovative ways to educate the next generation of teachers. This approach is very much in line with my thinking about the role of formative or design experiments in which rigorous curricular design and assessment are intertwined to create an innovative self- correcting structure that is focused on development not as a result of external pressures but instead of growing understanding of process and product as well as influenced by the research we do in schools.
So what that has to do with the arts? Well we have a unique opportunity to leverage what we've been learning in the field into our preservice program. In the last few years we shifted from a domain approach in arts education (a class on music, visual etc.) to an integrated experience focused on aesthetic experiences. Our masters in elementary education (MAET) program has an integrated arts education course that integrates the arts, science, and literacy in the context of place based education (in our case the prairie). We are now ready to make the arts more prominent throughout our program. I am not yet sure of what form it will take but the possibilities are truly exciting.
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