Interest is powerful. It helps you focus and motivates you to know more. What’s amazing is that a teacher can manage to make something that is generally pretty interesting seem boring and take something that may seem boring to some and make it alluring and interesting. As teachers we hold a great power and responsibility to help rouse the interest of our students and help maintain that interest over time.
If you have decided to attempt to integrate arts in the classroom, you may be worried that you do not know enough or are not passionate about the arts themselves. If you are not normally involved in the arts, integrating them may be unnerving to you. But, if you are able to tap into what is interesting to you personally about the various arts, you may find that you and your students are drawn in by the power of that interest.
Artist: Perhaps you are interested in people and love a good biography. You may want to get to know a particular person and approach the art form through that person. Find a painter, singer, musician, dancer, actor or poet who fascinates you. Learn more about her/him and the approach that person takes to the art form. By getting to know the artist, you may find your interest in that art form piqued.
Time Period: Perhaps you are more of a history buff and are most interested in a certain era or time period in a certain place. By looking at the kind of art generated in that period of time in a certain place and its connection to the history, you may find you are very interested in art and what it can tell you about the era in which it was created.
Genre/Medium: Think about the different forms of art and within those, what is most attractive to you about each art form. In visual art you may be most drawn to sculpture, folk art, acrylic painting, collage, printmaking. In music, you may love rock, orchestral music, chamber music, acoustic guitar, opera, big band. You might be amazed by ballet, jazz, modern, tap, folk dance. If you were going to experience theater, what would be your choice: a movie, stage play, musical theater, comedy improvisation, storytelling, shadow puppetry? Allow one genre to pull you in and you may find your interest expanding as you learn more about each art form.
Piece: Perhaps none of the above speak to you. You may be most able to access art through individual pieces. Find one piece of art from the various art forms and analyze what about it appeals to you. What’s that one piece of music you put on when you need to center or relax or get motivated? Why? Walk around an art museum or pick up a book that shows a wide variety of art. What piece of art could you sit and stare at all day? What about it pulled you in? Have you ever witnessed a dance that stayed with you? What was it about that piece that appealed to you? What about a movie, play or story? Why did it stay with you? How can you use it to help yourself access that form of art?
If you are struggling with finding an access point to art or are concerned about your ability to teach it, make it personal to you. Find something you are truly interested in and allow your natural interest and enthusiasm to be the catalyst to generating that interest in your students. Interest can be contagious!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.