When I considered naming this article “The Proof is in the Pudding” I decided to look up the origin of the expression to make sure it was an apt title. Interestingly I learned the original saying is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” meaning you don’t know whether something will work until you try it out, like testing a recipe for pudding by eating it. So what does all this pudding eating have to do with arts integration, you may ask? I may be stretching a bit here but go with me on this.
To really appreciate a pudding, you can’t take just one bite. You need to savor the experience; let it sit on your tongue to take in all the flavors. It takes several bites to really immerse yourself in and get the most out of the pudding eating experience. While most pieces of visual art are created to last for a while, most performing art pieces are experienced in the moment and are gone, much like a good pudding. But with the performing arts there isn’t always a chance to really savor the piece or take several bites. Just as you are appreciating one flavor, the piece may have moved on to another flavor entirely. The more complex the piece, the more that may be missed in the initial experience of it. Thanks to technology, we are able to preserve the piece and experience the taste over and over until we have truly had a chance to appreciate all it has to offer.
Now the performing art that your students may be creating, depending on the age level and sophistication of your students, may not be all that layered or nuanced but even the most simple dance, music or theater piece can be better appreciated upon repeated viewings/hearings. This is why I strongly advocate that work be filmed. This may seem dreadfully obvious but I am embarrassed to say how many times it has been an afterthought for me. I prefer to be in the moment rather than recording it but the advantages to having the work to experience again cannot be underestimated.
First, It is always helpful for the audience to have a chance to watch the piece again in order to give feedback to the artists or to look more carefully for whatever element/topic is being explored. It is crucial for the artists to have an opportunity to experience the piece themselves to learn from it, to self-asses, and/or to revise the piece. And it is so important for teachers in trying to assess art to have the opportunity to study it in order to adequately asses it. If footage is systematically saved both teacher and students can look back over a body of work to see growth and mastery emerge.
Not too long ago, I gave my fifth graders a choreographic challenge which they took on in pairs or small groups. After viewing the dances as a class and noting how the dancers met the challenge, I decided to take those individual pieces and create a whole class group choreography from various elements included in their partner/small group work. In putting the various pieces together, I viewed the small group work repeatedly, amazed at little details I missed the first time around. The pudding tasted pretty good for their first attempt at recipe development which was all the proof I needed.
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.