Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rationale Part Two: Awakening Imaginations and Energizing our Classrooms

Another reason for integrating the arts is that they appeal to all of the multiple intelligences. They are a method of getting away from the one size fits all teaching mentality of simply focusing on the linguistic intelligence and branching out to reach all students. Teachers must reach “beyond the text and the blackboard to awaken student’s minds” (Armstrong, 2000, p. 39). This idea connects to the earlier argument regarding teaching to the whole child. It is not difficult to find out which intelligences are stronger in each child in a classroom. This can be done through simple questioning, or trying varied activities. It can also be discovered through watching how students “misbehave in class. The strongly linguistic student will be talking out of turn, the highly spatial student will be doodling and daydreaming, the interpersonally inclined student will be socializing, the bodily-kinesthetic student will be fidgeting…” (Armstrong, 2000, p. 21) and the list goes on. The point is that the better we know our students and the best ways they learn, the better we will be able to do the things in class to make them successful. The more intelligences we can teach to in our students, the more they will own what they learn and learn it effectively. Integrating the arts reaches all of the intelligences through varying approaches to student learning.

We need to encourage our students to be imaginative and be awake to the world around them. What better way than through the arts. Drama, music, storytelling, visual arts, and movement help to awaken the imagination and bring vitality and energy into a classroom. Maxine Greene says “No encounters can release imagination in the way engagement with works of art or aesthetic enactments can release it” (Diaz & McKenna, 2004, p. 18). It becomes eminently clear that we need to reach for strategies that will awaken the imaginative energies in all of our students and engage them in the process of learning.

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