Integrated Teaching and Learning

By Lou Rizzolo and Peter Middleton.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Subject-centered teaching models, the traditional form of instruction in the United States, inadvertently favor one select learning style. More recently, however, educational leaders and brain researchers have begun to search for more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary strategies to improve these conventional educational practices, including studying the integration of creative arts content with academic learning. Art education research, too, has begun pursuing the process of teaching and learning with diverse theoretical pedagogies, and although presently how to integrate academic and art content into teaching and learning methodology remains the challenge, the authors conclude this change would be the most significant means to inform thinking, and to increase academic scores as well as academic excellence.
BIGThink, a collaborative between experts in art, technology, and education with leading teachers at Black River Public School, a progressive Michigan K-12 Charter Academy, pursue this goal. They contend that delivering and receiving content should be a reciprocal process where teaching and learning thresholds are not as clearly delineated as in a subject-centered approach. Drawing from both the researched premises of BIGThink’s Creative Learning Program and through the hands-on research of teachers at Black River Public School, we conclude that subject-centered educational practices impede learning styles. While some students are certainly able to thrive regardless of teaching methodology, notable outcomes from these terminal practices result in poor student performance, student apathy, increased state and national high school dropout rates, and lowered international educational rankings. This conclusion does not negate the effect of socio-economic conditions, but teaching and learning practices remain the decisive qualitative factors. Educational change can be difficult to implement, but if the United States is to succeed as an enlightened society where students with varied learning styles excel in both art and other academics, it will happen through significantly adjusting educational curricula towards the Integrated Teaching and Learning Model.

Keywords: Multi-Media, Integrated Teaching, Learning, Arts Education, Learning Styles, Black River Public School, BIGThink, Progressive Education, Interdisciplinary

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.277-290. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.459MB).

Lou Rizzolo

President, Black River Public School, Glen, Michigan, USA

As University Professor Emeritus of the Gwen Frostic School of Art, Western Michigan University and President of BIGThink, my career has focused on becoming a significant artist, an inspiring teacher and a scholarly researcher. By 1990 my work focused on art and technology because of a Sabbatical Leave to research environmental multimedia installation/performance, air structure design, laser light technology and collaborative art/science research regarding creativity's relationship to hemispheric function at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This research led me to form an Art/Science/Tech Group BIGThink, which presents lectures and workshops in Creativity Education/Collaboration, Outreach Programs, Health and Well Being Research and Environmental Multimedia Sculpture Installation/Performances. As a traditional artist, I have taught, lectured and/or exhibited in Canada, Scotland, Switzerland, Hawaii, Austria, France, Norway, Australia, India and the USA and have installed environmental multi-media works in Canada, France, USA, Switzerland, and Norway. I am also Director of the World Peace Art Initiative.

Peter Middleton

Vice-President BIGthink, Education and Curriculum, Black River Public School, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Peter Middleton, MFA, is a founding Director and Vice President of BIGThink. He is a primary, secondary and post secondary art teacher at Black River Public School. He has worked extensively as a founding collaborator through the arts with the World Peace Art Initiative, and has participated on many levels in large-scale environmental artworks. Community projects include: VSA for children with disabilities, teacher workshops, and international community projects.


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