20 April 2009

"Arts-Integrated Education" -- A Perfect Partner for Life Learning

I think today is the first time I have ever heard the term "Arts-Integrated Education". I ran across an article about it on Education.com http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Arts_Integrated_Education/?cid=90.125. As I read through the article, which gives a basic understanding of what an Arts-Integrated Curriculum is, I realized it is what I have provided for my 16 year old. 

I am a very logical person, and I work in a straight line, one point at a time. Or at least that is how I learned to cope with public school when I was in it. Homeschooling has taught me a lot...about myself. I used to tell people that I learned as much, if not more, FROM my kids than they learned from me. Which is to say that I have learned way more since having children, and homeschooling them than I ever learned in a classroom in public school. And I was in an advanced or honors program through high school, so you would think that I would have learned a lot there.

The beginning of my homeschooling adventure was miserable! My daughter just did not pick up the things that I sat her down to teach her. I knew she was an intelligent child, as she learned things on her own at an incredible rate. But what was my role as her teacher supposed to be? She loved to do worksheets after she had already learned something... later worksheets became an assessment tool. I just could not get her to "sit down and learn"... I knew I was a capable teacher, I had been a tutor for three years in high school. 

I decided that perhaps I was missing something. So I went back and hit the books. I found everything that the local library held about how the brain works, and how children learn. I read about how foods affect the brain, I read about how girls and boys brains learned different things at different times. I learned about "Spirited Children", also known as strong willed. I read every homeschooling book the library could offer. I even ordered books in through there inter library loan program. I immersed myself in everything I could find. And I came to the conclusion that after graduating from a good high school with a decent grade, I knew absolutely nothing! 
I decided to try out different styles of homeschooling that appealed to me, that seemed like they might fit both me and my daughter. I started to pull together pieces of things that worked from whichever style we were using until I had something quite eclectic going...but it worked! One of the things that I realized was that my daughter learned best if we were singing, dancing, coloring, or watching a movie. We picked up movies for free at our local Blockbuster that were "Educational"... most of them were nature based, National Geographic type things. After watching a movie we colored ideas from the movie while we talked about what it was about. We found a song that taught the multiplication tables, and danced and sang to it. We made clothespin butterflies while we learned about different species of butterflies, their habitats, and migration patterns. I taught her to use the computer and learned some basic HTML that I taught to her, and the next thing I knew she was creating web pages about what she had just learned. 

An Arts-Integrated Education is one which uses different art forms to teach core lessons. It seems that is what I had unknowingly created for my daughter, and has ultimately led me to the style of home schooling known as Unschooling, Radical Unschooling, or (the term I use) Life Learning. Within Life Learning, my daughter can follow her "Arts-Integrated Education", while I follow the written word in whatever format it appears these days!

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