Curriculum Integration Positions and Practices in Art Education

By Krug, Don H.; Cohen-Evron, Nurit | Studies in Art Education, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview

Curriculum Integration Positions and Practices in Art Education


Krug, Don H., Cohen-Evron, Nurit, Studies in Art Education


Issues of school reform regarding teaching For understanding and knowledge fragmentation have influenced teachers, including art teachers, to work across curriculum divisions. This paper examines art education practices using interpretations of curriculum integration positions from the field of education. Discourse analysis1 was used as the research method to contextually situate and analyze four arc curricular paradigms: using the arts as resources for other disciplines; enlarging organizing centers through the arts; interpreting subjects, ideas, or themes through the arts; and understanding life-centered issues through meaningful educational experiences.2

In The Quiet Evolution: Changing the Face of Arts Education, Wilson (1997) describes changing views of visual art programs from being at the margins to a core position in school curricula. He says: "Art teachers who were accustomed to working by themselves are now working as key members of school planning teams intent on broadening school instructional programs" (Wilson, 1997, p. xi). Wilson articulates areas of educational reform influenced by integration initiatives in education and art education. He contends that art teachers are starting to participate in collaborative curricular organization and that educational reform efforts are beginning to support all the arts playing a more significant role in curriculum integration. If Wilson is correct, we believe the ways that art teachers conceptualize and organize curricular knowledge will need to change along with their art teaching practices.

As teachers investigate approaches to curriculum integration, they will need to work as members of school planning teams, deliberating3 over curriculum decision making. Our research indicates that constructing and implementing integrated curricula calls for teachers to first form interpersonal relationships within the school and community based on mutual trust, respect, and care (Hatch, 1998). These slowly evolving and challenging processes can be supported through ongoing dialogue and collaboration among teachers from different disciplines with different perspectives as they discuss the importance of knowledge and issues that affect their everyday lives. How might these changes impact the field of art education? How can art teachers benefit from understanding their personal philosophical positions in association with a range of educational practices?

Collaborative Research and Discourse4 Analysis

This article reports preliminary collaborative research at the Ohio State University.5 In 1997, Nurit Cohen-Evron began work on a Ph.D. in Art Education at The Ohio State University. Her work in curriculum integration stems from her own classroom practice as an art teacher as well as her 15 years of teaching pre-service education at the School of Art, Beit-Berl College. Don Krug has taught using an integrated approach to curriculum from 1979 - 1991 in United States public schools, and with pre-service teachers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Ohio State University since the late 1980s. We both recognized a need to analyze the many different initiatives to integrate the arts within the general curriculum and to study the implications for teaching about visual culture. During initial conversations, we discussed how teachers interpret theoretical and philosophical positions in their daily practices. Our mutual research interests are in democratic, integrated education; the barriers and fluidity of curriculum disciplinary structures; and the conjunctural relationships of curriculum integration positions and practices of art educators.

Discourse analysis was used in this study to examine conceptual relations of art teacher practices and educational philosophical positions. Apple (1982, 1990) and other educational researchers have investigated classroom cultures and the reproduction and contestation of curriculum knowledge organization (Ashton, 1996; Greene, 1993; Lawrence-- Lightfoot, 1997; May, 1994; McCutcheon, 1995). …

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