In an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review arts teachers are doing more than worrying about budget cuts. They are getting creative and using an arts integration approach to demonstrate the value of the arts within the classroom and their impact on the 21st century.
School art programs around Allegheny County seem to be going strong as teachers emphasize critical thinking and interdisciplinary studies, but some officials fear Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget portends dire cuts in school funding and endangers arts programs.
With some districts’ art teachers handling 700 students per semester and shuttling among schools, they nonetheless have carved out a niche for arts education by connecting it to other subjects, and emphasizing creativity and critical thinking over technical skills.
“What I tell my kids all the time is, ‘I may not teach you to draw, but I will teach you to think,’ ” said Jayne Sweet, a middle school and high school art teacher in the South Allegheny School District. “If you have the critical-thinking and reasoning skills you develop in art, you can use those to answer a PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) question.”
Thus, lessons in impressionistic painting can involve elements of French history; drawing and perspective can include math and geometry; making and painting Native American drums can teach history, social studies and music all at once.
School leaders and arts administrators do provide a word of caution, though:
“You can’t have good arts integration across your curriculum if you don’t have a good arts education program,” Jamie Kasper, associate director of the Arts Education Collaborative, a Downtown-based group providing advocacy, leadership training and professional-development programs for art teachers.