“The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists…The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.” – Dana Gioia
The Edgemont Art program is truly unique. Unlike most standard art programs, the goal is not just to teach art, art history, or art methods. Although the teaching of “art” is accomplished in an integrated art program, the program accomplishes so much more: an integrated art program enriches the teaching of subjects like math, science, geography, and literature by providing art experiences that reinforce traditional classroom learning. The standard curriculum is infused with art to produce activities that are directly related to the subject being learned in the classroom.
Years of research on learning and knowledge retention led to the formation of the integrated art program. Many believe that art class is simply for “learning art.” However, research has shown that using the arts enhances all learning. For instance, Michigan State University recently showed a correlation between art activities and the success of the scientists, engineers, and other innovators who create new companies and inventions. Research done on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals shows that scientific creativity is reliant on and correlated to artistic creativity. A look at all noble prize winners (up to 2005) shows that compared to the general US population they are:
-2 times more likely to be a photographer
-4 times more likely to be a to be a musician
-17 times more likely to be a visual artist
-15 times more likely to participate in a form of craftsmanship
-25 times more likely to be a poet or creative writer
-22 times more likely to be a performer
Blooms Revised Taxonomy lists “creating” as the highest form of learning! Adding art into curriculum allows students to participate in the higher order thinking skills while doing CORE subjects like math, science and writing.
An integrated art program goals are not just to make artists, although that can happen. An integrated art program strives to create and motivate scientists like Albert Einstein, architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, and innovators like Steve Jobs. This is accomplished by using art methods for learning in different subjects. Look at our art gallery and see that 6th grade students make Egyptian death masks as they learn about practices in ancient Egypt. The 5th grade students use combined art, music, dance and classroom instruction in their language arts curriculum. As they learn about Colonial America, they learn information in the classroom, they create traditional American villages in art, they learn about traditional musical instruments and folk songs in music, and perform the Virginia Reel in PE/dance. The goal in these creative art endeavors is not only to produce art work. The goal is to produce learning, to stimulate the brain in a different way and enhance retention of information learned. By including art methods in everyday classroom settings, the students are given another form in which to interact with the knowledge being presented. The importance of this integrated learning has manifest itself many times at Edgemont, including a rise in standardized test scores for the whole school.
On top of the research, the art program at Edgemont has inspired the whole school. At Edgemont we already have many of the best teachers in the state. Ten of the teachers at Edgemont have completed an extra arts course that increased their teaching ability and use of art in their classroom. This has reinforced learning. Edgemont was one of the few elementary schools in the valley to received an “A” rating this year and standardized tests scores have risen almost 10% since the introduction of the integrated art program at Edgemont. The music program has receive new enthusiasm and support with the introduction of this program and extra emphasis on art. Dance is now being used in PE at Edgemont. Our French Immersion program is thriving, even receiving recognition from the French Government. The integrated art program influences all the other programs and fosters an environment where every student has some subject they enjoy and excel at. In 2013, Edgemont Elementary School was awarded the Sorenson Legacy Award for “Outstanding Arts Program” in the state of Utah. This award competition included both secondary and elementary schools.
Edgemont parents sum it up…
I love our art program! It has helped my children bring to life what they are studying in their classes. For example, the sixth graders learned about Egypt and in art they got to create their own death masks. It made my sixth grader connect her life with ancient Egypt as she thought about what symbols would represent her life on her death mask. She now will not forget, as many do just memorizing facts, that aspect of history. The Art Program helps to give our students more than a textbook side of learning; it brings learning to life!
Whether we scrapbook, listen to the radio, see plays, landscape our yards, collect stamps or create 30 ft sculptures we are all patrons of the arts in some way!! We love that the art program at Edgemont teaches our children (and ourselves) to value the art that affects us all everyday. We are always so grateful for the teachers and parents that dedicated themselves to the art program and to helping create an environment in which all different types of children can grow and thrive.