Encouraging Thinking through the Arts

By Jonelle Pool, Marta Robertson, Kenneth Pool and GailAnn Rickert.

Published by The Arts Collection

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

This conceptual essay explores the implementation, benefits, and challenges associated with cross-disciplinary and arts-integrated curricula at k-16 levels. While the arts have traditionally been a part of school curricula, current research by Gadsden (2008) emphasizes the importance of the arts for enhancing cultural understanding, cognitive abilities, meaning making, motivation, imagination, and their usefulness for a more engaging pedagogy. In an arts-integrated classroom, both students and teachers are engaged learners, constructing meaning together. A renewed focus on the contribution of the arts provides distinct value in promoting our attempts to understand and address the continuing challenges of the 21st century associated with teaching and learning. Not only is there power in constructing meaning from experience, but cognitive science also documents that learning inevitably proceeds from experience. Positioning the teacher as both master practitioner and learner disrupts the traditional expert/novice hierarchy that typically results in rote learning and mechanistic curriculum delivery. In this paper, we analyze how our experiences with arts-integrated pedagogy encouraged discovery, learning, and student motivation. Our viewpoints, supported by a literature-based theoretical framework, are analyzed through a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We draw examples from k-16 settings to demonstrate the universality of the arts for engaging and encouraging multicultural perspective taking, historical thinking, and critical reflection to stimulate the educational experience.

Keywords: Arts Integration, Cognition, Pedagogy, Cross Disciplinary Curriculum, Learning

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.207-218. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 602.469KB).

Dr. Jonelle Pool

Associate Professor & Chair, Education Department, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Jonelle Pool, Ph.D. is the Chair of the Education Department at Gettysburg College. Her background is Educational Psychology and much of her professional career has been devoted to the preparation of teachers. Her interest in the arts as a tool for enhancing both cognitive learning and teaching has defined her professional practices in preparing new teachers. She has authored several papers and presented her work on arts-integrated curriculum designs at both national and international conference venues.

Dr. Marta Robertson

Associate Professor & Coordinator, Sunderman Conservatory of Music, Interdisciplinary Studies, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Marta Robertson, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. of musicology/ethnomusicology at Gettysburg College, studies intersections between music and movement performatively, historically, and ethnographically. She has examined the collaborative process between Aaron Copland and Martha Graham in Appalachian Spring, introducing methodologies to analyze the constituitive elements of music and movement within their shared cultural context. Currently, she is expanding this methodology to examine the artistic culture in Japanese American internment camps during World War II. As a student of Okinawan classical dance, she performs and works ethnographically with the Okinawan diasporic community of central Pennsylvania. Additionally, she performs on harpsichord and recorders with Zorzal, an ensemble specializing in multicultural musics of Spain and Latin America.

Dr. Kenneth Pool

Corrdinator, Special Education, McDaniel College, Gettysburg, MD, USA

Ken Pool, Ed.D, is currently the program coordinator for graduate programs in special education at McDaniel College. For the past three years he served as the Executive Director of the Leonard Bernstein Center for Learning at Gettysburg College. The Center sponsored an integrated arts-based curriculum serving schools across the United States. He has held a variety of academic and administrative positions throughout his career in higher education.

Dr. GailAnn Rickert

Dean & Chair, Academic Advising, Classics, Gettyburg College, Gettysburg, PA, USA

GailAnn Rickert, Ph.D., has a background in Classical Philosophy and the focus of her teaching and administrative career has been to foster the development of students’ intellectual autonomy. Her interest in arts-integrated curricula derives from her study of metaphorical thinking.


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