It is now known that our brain retains colourful and interesting information better. The aim of Educational boards like IB & CBSE is not to create master artists, but rather teach basic arts skills, processes, and aesthetic quality, and encourage learning through creative techniques.
Dr. Anindita Roy
The writer is Director at Institute of Creative Sciences & she is an Art, Architecture & Design Career Coach
Looking back in my life in school and then in college I recall beautiful amalgamation of art and science. It is compelling aspect and I feel like sharing some incidents with you all today.
The first day I entered my Design class, my professor wrote me off as a hopeless case as I was a science student! That a science student cannot be a good artist and a designer was somehow etched in her mind.
However, as the class progressed, she had to agree that this science student was definitely an artist too!! And in a few days time she had to completely change her mind about science students not being able to create art! Now even experts agree that Design is ‘Science’ integrated with ‘Arts’.
My father, himself a science professor, was an artist at heart! His elder brother, my Jethu, was a commercial artist and a great one at that. He used to send us postcards with his pen and ink drawings on the front side with a small note on the reverse. I used to collect and copy his artwork as a little girl.
Our father was very strict about our science diagrams in school and in college both. He taught us the ‘art of observation’ at a very young age. He was a stickler for minute details and we got scolded for not being able to draw a perfect diagram at times. I also learnt to draw small sketches for every subject and topic.
When we were young, our books were not quite illustrated! I still have nightmares involving the thick History book with small fonts and no pictures at all! Children nowadays are so lucky to have all text books illustrated with sketches and artwork! But I was lucky to have a scientist father who was an artist at heart to teach me the art of observation and eye for detail.
When the world was oblivious to mind-mapping, he taught us to map and chart out topics for better remembrance. So armed with this ‘power’ of observation, I entered my design college after my Post Graduation in Life Sciences.
Power of Observation is a skill that all children need to learn. Art integrated learning makes any subject interesting and enjoyable. It also enhances the power of observation in a child.
Now there are two basic kind of arts, the visual arts and the performing arts. Visual art is that art which we can see- like sketches, paintings, photography and sculpture. Performing arts are music, dance, drama and
other arts involving kinesthetic activities. Integrating creative arts to mundane subjects make them more interesting and the students are able to retain the information better.
Also, it is now known that our brain retains colourful and interesting information. Visual stimuli activates the brain’s ability to retain and process information in a better manner. So, here we get the concept of whole brain thinking! And it has now been proven that individuals practicing whole brain thinking are more successful in life.
The different educational boards like CBSE, IB and ICSE taking initiative to incorporate ‘Art Integrated Learning’ in schools is a commendable one. However, an issue commonly brought is that “not all teachers are artists,” meaning that there aren’t enough teachers capable of doing art to teach in every classroom.
But here we would like to state that whether or not a teacher can do these things is irrelevant. The aim here is not to create master artists, but rather teach basic arts skills, processes, and aesthetic quality, and encourage creative teaching techniques.
The skills of art integrated teaching are simple and easy to learn and teach. We believe that these methods will be infinitely useful to creating interesting lesson plans and once put in practice will be enjoyed by both the teacher and the student. Once an arts-integrated environment is established, techniques, examples, and information can be shared and used.
As a Design Teacher and Mentor I have been consciously and sub-consciously using Art Integrated learning for my students from when I started to teach. I remember a batch of students whom I was coaching for Design Entrance exams.
The whole bunch of students were scared of mathematics!! So I started them with copies of a book which had lots of illustrations on the sides. I asked them to first colour the cartoons illustrated on the sides and then start reading the chapter.
I am pleased to inform you that all of them picked speed in solving complex mathematical problems thereafter. They had learnt to integrate creativity into the subject of mathematics which they considered mundane!
I also see many teachers of subjects like Marketing and Finance encourage story and graphic techniques to the learning process. My son, studying Economics, once made a storyboard for one of his college topics using a drawing software and created a very creative presentation alongwith his team and I was very impressed by the way they were learning! They really incorporated lots of graphics and story creation to understand Economics and Finance!
So dear teachers, parents, guardians and our dear students, the era of Arts Integrated Learning is here to stay! Do try out Visual and performing arts techniques to teach and learn any subject from now onwards and engage the students creatively for all subjects. A reminder again, the aim here is not to create master artists, but rather teach and learn basic arts skills, processes, and aesthetic quality for better retention of information and cognitive learning. It is learning incorporated with Fun.
Thank you for reading my take on the subject of ‘Art Integrated Learning’. I will be back soon with more on the subject.
Dr Anindita Roy,