Overview of Integrated Arts
How to avoid killing creativity
Today’s lecture with Diarmuid discussed how the arts have been used in education in the past and how things are beginning to change with regards to integrating the arts in education now. Although I can remember doing painting, drawing, and school shows at primary and secondary school Diarmuid explained this has been seen to be more of a conformity than as the arts being recognised as an important tool that could be integrated into other lessons within the classroom. On thought this rings true with me as I cannot remember a single time I did drama or music as a possible literacy or maths lesson although, I do remember I used art within a history or topic lesson for example making a Viking boat. So why did teachers not recognise the arts as being a valuable vessel to deepen children’s learning? It seems there is evidence to suggest this may have been lack of belief in their own confidence of teaching something they may know very little about, also in the advantages from using it as a tool in their practice. It appears that teachers would stick to a template of what is expected in school therefor conforming to things like copying a famous art work, repeating the same drama and music for the nativity once a year, and incorporating dance at P.E. for Christmas parties. In other words, very teacher led pedagogies that were intended to teach technical skills needed for a practical led working world. An article written by Walter Humes published in TESS (1st July 2005) also explains that “Demonstrating flair and distinctiveness has been seen as a kind of showing off, a form of self-indulgence which ought to be suppressed.” However, this has begun to change in recent years with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence in education and the development of the digital age.
I went on to read the web-based report Creativity across Learning 3-18. It discusses the development of our thinking about creativity, the skills gained from it and how creativity can be best applied in the school curriculum. The creative learning plan was created in partnership with Creative Scotland and other agencies committed to developing creativity in Scotland. The author Bill Maxwell explains “Creativity is very clearly at the heart of the philosophy of Curriculum for Excellence and is fundamental to the definition of what it means to be a ‘successful learner’ in the Scottish education system.”
So, what are the consequences for me as a student teacher? Well, I am fortunate to have spent a quite a bit of time in schools as a classroom assistant and I have already experienced the barriers there can be within the school setting. Things like space, time, resource’s, and money are just some of those things. However, as a student teacher I will consider, the value of using the arts to enhance learning can far outweigh those issues. As a teacher I will teach creatively but also for creative learning. I can do this by having a tolerance for ambiguity, allowing children to lead their learning by being confident in a child’s viewpoint and their imagination and not being afraid to set positive examples by joining in the creative process. I will recognise that creativity is not exclusive to the arts. Science, maths, and literacy are just some areas that can be explored with fun pupil led activities. This will enhance a child’s learning by deepening their understanding, encourage curiosity and interest but also help them to think creatively in terms of problem solving, investigation, evaluation, and communication. Today’s children need to be adept in their creative thinking skills because their working world is digitally led and one which is constantly changing, therefor the future workforce need to be deep critical thinkers.
A Closer Look at Freeze Frame
This week’s session was a recorded session where we looked closer at using Freeze frame as a drama technique and how it can be used to enhance a literacy lesson. Freeze frame is where the teacher would ask a group of children to recreate a point in the story and then ask them to stop action. We were provided with videos to watch demonstrating the use of freeze frame and freeze frame being used in different ways. In using freeze frame, we are zooming in on a particular part of a story and digging deeper into thoughts, emotions, feelings, themes, and characters. Some of the things we can do with drama techniques are; asking children watching and the children taking part questions which will help them to develop a better understanding of literacy aspects, and in this technique in arranging them in different groups at different points of the story forms a visual of the narrative and emotional journey. Carrying out these tasks within drama techniques can provide many outcomes such as developing the ideas about characters for example deconstructing and humanising them. It can also help to give a greater understanding of a scene and encourage discussion of the story with their peers helping them form opinions, collaborate, and problem solve. Some methods using freeze frame are:
- Story map – using groups of children to recreate scenes at different points in the story
- Open and close eyes – asking the children watching to close their eyes between scene changing
- Still image – asking a group of children to create a scene in a story but to stand still not stopping action
- Tableaux – building up still image slowly adding components
- Thought tracking – tapping a child in a pose and asking for their thought as the character.
During the video I was able to see how using freeze frame with Thought Tracking could work well to develop speech, and vocabulary. The children were able to empathise with the character they were playing which helped them to express their characters thoughts and feelings more deeply. It also creates lots of discussion between the children as it shares aloud the possible thoughts of the character which leads to a better level of
- knowledge and understanding
- sharing thoughts
- sharing responsibility for development of a character
- taking ownership of ideas
Freeze frame can be used very effectively for literacy but can also be used to explore topic work or history lessons just as well.
Todays input was recorded. We were learning about the digital resource for primary music called Charanga. It is a free resource and has been around for about 30 years. I followed the link to have a look at the website and found it to be very interesting not to mention reassuring. Charanga offers week by week structured lessons on different topics within music. It is set out appropriate to year groups in a timetable for throughout the school year. It is very easy to navigate the website with a scheme in place with 6 steps to each topic within which there are activities to complete in progression and lesson plans, assessments and support laid out alongside for teacher use. I really liked the addition of the support documents for the lessons especially as I have no formal music training. It gives me the confidence to know I can understand what is being taught too. Some of the activities include warm up and tracking games before beginning to learn to sing the song. Everything is colour coded and very visual using cartoon characters which are engaging and easy for the children to follow. As it is projected onto the smart board in the classroom it is very much resource lead teaching which is great for those teachers who don’t feel comfortable leading music lessons for fear of inexperience but will also build teacher confidence in using music as an important learning tool.
This weeks’ inputs were really beginning to dig into the reasons why the arts are so important in education. I can now begin to adopt the strategies and ideas I am seeing and imagine how I would use them in my teaching practice. By looking back and comparing my childhood education I can see how things are changing with a view to integrating arts more effectively. By reading the material I can now understand what my aim should be a creative teacher and by embracing the resources and strategies I am learning about in the workshops my confidence is growing in my ability to do that.
Humes W. (2005) Barriers to creativity in the classroom. Available at: Barriers to creativity in the classroom | Tes News (Accessed: 13 October 2020).
Curriculum for excellence Scotland. Available at: Policy for Scottish education | Scottish education system | Education Scotland (Accessed: 13 October 2020)
Maxwell B. (2013) Creativity across learning 3-18. Available at: Creativity across learning 3-18 impact report (education.gov.scot) (Accessed: 13 October 2020)