If you are a teacher and have taught for more than three years, you have probably been introduced to the newest, latest education fad that is going to turn our schools around. It will come with a whole new set of jargon to learn, staff development days to sit through, acronyms to memorize and administrators pleading for everyone to get on board. If you’ve been teaching for more than a decade, you’ve probably seen at least three to four of these fads come and go. If you’ve been teaching for a few decades, you’ve probably seen some of these ideas come and go and then come back again, with a brand new name of course.
I will never forget the day that I sat through four hours of staff development on Graphic Organizers. If you are unfamiliar with the term Graphic Organizer, perhaps you are more familiar with its other name – a chart. I have literally been using charts since preschool and certainly did not need a four hour workshop showing me how to use them in the classroom.
So I get it. I get that you don’t want to learn another buzzword. I get that you probably rolled your eyes when you heard about STEAM integration. However, arts integration and STEAM are NOT the latest buzzwords! OK, ok, ok. STEAM is a new education buzzword, but the concept of an integrated curriculum is one of those ideas that keeps making it’s way back into education. I believe in teaching through the arts because the arts are incredibly powerful. An integrated lesson has the power to engage students more, to develop creativity, to create and access more neural pathways, develop more effective problem solving skills and develop stronger social skills.
In reality, our world is integrated. We do not separate tasks into neat compartments in which skills are used in isolation. Life is messy and complex, and as educators, we should be preparing students for that. Arts integration is key, and I can show even the least creative person strategies and lessons that will make your integrated lessons seamless. I cannot say that an integrated approach is easy, at least not right away; but like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it gets.