Common to all subject areas across the curriculum are various “overarching” skills and processes, such as synthesis, analysis, reasoning, and communication. Integrating the fine arts with other disciplines (core content areas) through instruction and assessment supports the development of these skills and processes.
Real-life tasks require constant and complex integration of learning that crosses content area and disciplinary boundaries. Educators can enhance student learning by creating opportunities for students to make connections between arts content areas and other disciplines across the curriculum. Recent studies conducted in the area of brain research and the development of higher order thinking skills have also confirmed the benefits of integrating fine arts education across the curriculum.
Integration of learning outcomes across disciplines may take a number of different forms, including:
- Incorporation of a content standard (i.e., learning outcome) from one content area to enhance that in another;
- Identification of universal themes and commonalities between and among content areas to enhance knowledge and skills in each;
- Application of skills, materials, and processes from one content area to create a product that will have meaningful application in another; and
- Use of knowledge about something in one content area (declarative knowledge) to shape a creative product or process in another.
Instructional practices in visual arts education support and are enhanced by learning not only in other arts disciplines, but in core content areas such as mathematics, science, social studies, and English language arts.
Visual arts education may provide an interdisciplinary context for exploring key ideas that include:
- Understanding of physical and chemical properties of substances (science);
- Interpretations of literary texts (language arts);
- Application of mathematical concepts such as line, shape, and space (mathematics); and
- Understanding of ways in which social and cultural values are defined and expressed throughout history (social studies).