Social Studies and the Arts

I believe that drama would be the most useful art form to help me understand different historical contexts because I personally feel the most engaged when I am able to take on the thoughts and feelings of another person through acting. Drama would help me better understand historical people, places, and events because I would be able to put myself in a specific situation as a specific character. This would allow me to understand that person’s experience and how it relates to current issues in our society. 

As a future educator, I plan to use all of the art forms Goldberg suggests, depending on which area of study we are focusing. I believe that I will use visual arts and drama most often because they are two simple, engaging mediums of art through which students can better learn and understand historical concepts. Drama would be most useful in helping students learn about historical events and the important characters that played a role in those events. They would not only enjoy having the opportunity to “become” a character, but they would also be able to connect with the material in a more meaningful and positive way. Visual arts, on the other hand, would be helpful for students to learn about the customs of different cultures, as well as geographical concepts. Students could learn more about the lifestyles, customs, and beliefs of people throughout history, for example, by analyzing historical photos, paintings, and other works of art.

It is important to integrate art into social studies curriculum because it allows students to learn in an interactive way. Being able to interact with historical content through art, rather than reading textbooks and memorizing facts, is essential for students to relate to the experiences of people throughout history. In turn, this could motivate students to create positive change in order to better our society.

Intelligence and Creativity

The encouragement of creativity within the classroom is essential for the growth of student intelligence and understanding of the world and its people and cultures. Although creativity does not always manifest in the arts, integrating art in education is especially important in terms of allowing for creativity and producing growth in student intelligence. The arts not only provide a means of expression for students to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and ideas, but the arts can also provide students with opportunities to expand their knowledge and learn in new ways. Intelligence and creativity are related because I believe that a person can learn, understand, and gain knowledge through expressing their creativity. Because creativity is an ongoing process, students can continuously grow through their understanding of themselves, people around them, and the world itself. Through the encouragement of creativity within education, not only are students able to gain intelligence and a new understanding of the world, but they are also able to focus on aspects of life that motivate them by reflecting on significant personal emotions and experiences.

Although I don’t believe that the SOLs are phrased in such a way that capture the notions of imagination and creativity, I believe that they allow for these important concepts to be encouraged. For example, the theatrical performances that we created in class are representative of using imagination and the creative process to better understand the content of the SOLs. My group used our imagination and creative spirit to create a scene that helped our peers better understand VA Science SOL 5.4c, which included the parts of an atom (protons, neutrons, and electrons). I believe that the experience of being a creator, as well as a participant allowed me to better understand the content. Even though SOLs are often disliked by both students and teachers, teachers can promote learning by presenting the information in such a way that fosters imagination and creativity, especially through the arts.

What Does It Mean to Be a Learner?

Out of Goldberg’s top ten list of education-related wishes for children, I feel that confidence is one of the most important components of learning for producing positive outcomes. Although there may initially be varying levels of confidence in students in my class, it is essential that all students feel a level of self-confidence in terms of allowing themselves to open up, try new things, and feel comfortable with their teachers and peers. Personally, I struggled with self-confidence throughout my elementary and middle school years, but I became more comfortable by confiding in and surrounding myself with teachers, friends, and family that helped me realize the value of being confident and open to trying new things. Throughout high school and college thus far, I have increased my level of self-confidence through acting and public speaking classes, presenting in front of others, and expanding my horizons in terms of new experiences. I believe that when students reach a level of self-confidence and trust with their teachers and peers, other important aspects of learning, such as desire, passion, and risk taking will come naturally.

The author’s list could be incorporated into an activity for K-5 students by having the students create a tangible piece of art with recyclables, such as milk jugs, cardboard rolls, bubble wrap, cereal boxes, etc. The upper elementary students could be challenged to find/collect their own recyclable materials, whereas, the lower elementary students could be provided with the materials in class. The piece of art could be inspired by a particular subject area that is being focused on in class, such as aquatic or terrestrial animals. This activity would allow students to learn and produce positive outcomes based on desire, passion, and wonder, which relate to which animal they choose and why. It would also focus on complexity and practicality in terms of their ability to challenge themselves and create something unusual or unfamiliar that could help them increase their understanding and make connections to the real world. And lastly, it would help students learn through engagement, confidence, risk taking, ownership, and empathy in terms of feeling confident in their creation and being able to share it with their peers.

Making Activity: Song

In class on January 30, 2018, my group and I created a song about the planets in our solar system to the tune of “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. The content of the song was inspired by VA SOL 4.7.

Lyrics:

The sun is the center of our solar system

It’s surrounded by eight planets

Let’s take a trip to outer space

Where no gravity exists

Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

Terrestrial planets of the stars

They are all important

But can we think what comes next?

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

So much pressure that they’re gaseous

That’s when the teacher reminds the students

That the Earth is our planet

That the Earth is our planet

That the Earth is our planet

Learning with, through, and about the Arts

The activity of creating and crafting our own songs is an effective means of art integration into classroom learning that we can use with our future students. Creating our own songs exemplified the methodology of learning with the arts because it combined the content of a K-5 SOL and the artistic expression of a song. By taking the information of a particular subject area—in my group’s case, the planets in our solar system—our peers were able to learn the content along with the original lyrics to the tune of a familiar song, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. Similarly, this activity was inspired by the methodology of learning through the arts in terms of allowing others to learn about a particular subject through the use of lyrics, music, song, and in some cases, dance. This activity focused more on learning through the arts than the other two ways because not only did it allow us to creatively express our knowledge of a specific topic, but it also allowed our peers to learn and engage with the performance of each group’s song. This activity will be helpful for our classrooms in the future because it provides a way for students to create a piece of art in an imaginative manner and allow his/her peers to engage in learning by retaining the information through the use of a catchy song or another form of artistic expression. Lastly, the creation of a song demonstrated learning about the arts because we, as future educators, are gaining knowledge not only about the process of creating art, but also about how we can integrate the arts into our curriculum and foster a sense of imagination, engagement, and community within our classrooms.