Inspire, Explore, Create, Evaluate.
According the the Crayola website, these are the basis for the Creativity Cycle. These four components are the natural ways in which all humans create. First, we are inspired by something or someone. We then explore the inspiration and find personal meaning in it. We then create something new out of the meaning that we found through our exploration. Finally, we evaluate our creation and its potential purpose.
This seems so simple, right? And yet, I hear people all the time say “how can I TEACH creativity?” or “how can I JUDGE creativity?”. Many times, they are lost as to the steps because they believe that creativity is some random act. Instead, it is actually a very logical series of events that occur. As such, you can judge (aka: ASSESS) creativity through the course of the process – not necessarily the product.
For those of you looking to implement an arts integration program, my question to you then becomes which of these levels in the creativity cycle do you live in for arts integration success? Arts integration is by nature a process which fosters and promotes creativity. As such, it can easily utilize the creativity cycle in itself and its own stages in your building.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these stages and see where your school might fit:
This is the school that is looking at the arts integration process as something they might like to do. It’s a possibility. This stage might look like a school which has a professional book study on arts integration, or who is sending some teachers to arts integration training. It might also be a core group of teachers who believe in arts integration and are excitedly using it in their classrooms. In this stage, teachers like to see ways in which other schools use arts integration, go on visits to schools that have been successful, and who visit websites that provide them with information and “inspiration” on what an arts integration program could become.
This is the school that has committed to putting arts integration into their action plan as a whole school community and are taking small steps to encourage regularly using arts integration lessons within their buildings. This school has researched arts integration extensively and consciously uses arts integration lessons designed for their specific school population. These schools commit a portion of their budget to help fund this initiative and provide collaborative planning time specifically for arts integration success. They also begin to collect data and analyze the effectiveness of this program across all levels.
This school has a solid grasp of what arts integration is and has found success in implementing it within their own building. They continue to send teachers to arts integration trainings, but their teachers are also beginning to become leaders in finding new ways to explore using arts integration in the classroom and with the community. These schools begin to experiment with ways to connect the community and other school stakeholders through arts integration and to build support for the program outside of just school staff.
Often, students, teachers, administration and parents all contribute to the ways in which subjects can be connected, shared and assessed. Artists-in-residences are brought in each year to work alongside teachers and students to find new techniques and ideas for creating cross-curricular connections. Arts integration is no longer a “strategy”, it is part of the school culture and the way that students are accustomed to experiencing and participating in their learning.
This school is the model school for arts integration. They are continuously monitoring all forms of data, both formative and summative, to guide curriculum and learning. Arts teachers are regularly provided time to collaborate with classroom teachers. There is time each day for students to attend an arts class. School improvement teams see the arts as a key component, and the school community values them greatly. Classroom teachers feel comfortable using the arts in their teaching, thus continuously look for ways to deepen their curriculum through arts techniques and objectives. Students actively participate in their learning, and parents involve themselves within each classroom.
Can you imagine the power of education if our schools were in the “Evaluate” stage?
We can get there! By embracing arts integration and taking small steps, we can change the way our student learn and discover. They can become the creative, collaborative, critical thinking people that we need for the 21st century – if we give them the tools they need. Next week, we’ll explore how to put the creativity cycle into action. But for now….where do you (and your school) live for arts integration success?
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.