Arts based pedagogy: gaining insight through multiple lenses

The idea of teaching through the arts is embraced by some, questioned by many, and ignored by others. We’re excited by the opportunity to explore the multiple lenses the arts provide. Here are our first thoughts – they might be useful as an introduction to arts based pedagogy.

Arts based pedagogy knows no age limit nor is it confined by a discipline. Arts based pedagogy invites students to use multiple formats to demonstrate what they know, what they are thinking, and what they question. It’s important to note that arts based pedagogy is not about creating “fine art” to represent content; it’s about representing learning and thinking in an alternate form. That form can include poetry, visual arts, theater, dance – the sky is the limit.

Arts based pedagogy is a powerful instructional strategy that is accessible to all students. Here’s a reader’s submission to the journal, Teacher:

Using arts-based pedagogies or arts-inquiries goes beyond singing the times-tables or watching a topical DVD, it is about framing learning experiences to connect the cognitive with the emotive, to critically examine assumptions, understandings and beliefs, to view things from different perspectives, and create a space for experimentation where alternative views can be explored. It is about creating a space where self-esteem, identity, voice, compassion and empathy can be developed and expressed. It is student centered, participatory and socially constructed. It can be used within single subjects but is a natural way to integrate or teach across the curriculum and has the greatest pedagogical impact in developing an understanding and potential engagement in social justice” You may wish to share the full article Arts Based Pedagogy, The Natural Partner for Social Justice  with your teaching colleagues.

So what does this look like in the classroom? As the instructor, you don’t need to identify as an artist, but you do need to feel comfortable exploring information in creative ways. To begin, here’s the simplest possible way to demonstrate how a the most basic of artistic representations, a “squiggle” can lead to deep thinking, questioning, intriguing conversations and new ideas.

This TED Talk by astronaut Mae Jemsion, who states that the science and the arts are different manifestations of the same thing and sees “the arts and science as avatars of human creativity”.

And what about assessing arts based pedagogy – can you actually assess creativity?  It a great topic for discussion. Grant Wiggins thinks we can and we agree. Check out what Wiggins has to say and his handy rubric Creative.

If we’ve piqued your interest, and want an idea for classroom practice, check out our blog Exploring Social Studies Through Arts Based Pedagogy.

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One Response to Arts based pedagogy: gaining insight through multiple lenses

  1. Pingback: Exploring Social Studies Through Arts-Based Pedagogy |

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