Arts integration as a catalyst for high school renewal
Dorfman, D. (2008). Arts integration as a catalyst for high school renewal. Studies in Art Education (50)1, 51-66.
This case study examines the issues encountered while developing a career academy of the arts that integrates traditional college preparatory education with student-centered learning to foster personal growth, artistic development and democratic empowerment. Conceived in the wake of recent attempts at school reform and concurrent grant funding, the Integrative Vision of the Arts (IVA) was created to give emphasis to the arts as an alternative approach to student engagement in a rural public high school in Vermont. Based on career-academy literature and democratic education, the teacher-researcher developed this program to ensure both traditional academic achievement and engaged student learning occur in a curriculum rich in the arts. Students enrolled in specialized classes and an advisory program based on an arts integrative approach to education. IVA met significant challenges as the realities of school culture arose during the program’s implementation, however, despite these setbacks, IVA proved to be enriching for the students involved, the school and the local community.
Students involved in IVA and its programs showed dedication, creativity, self-initiative, and self-direction in arts learning and community service. The second goal of improving achievement for low performing students in academic subjects was not met. These students failed to make the transfer of active and engaged learning to the academic core subjects so their achievement in these courses remained flat. The social and personal growth of students in IVA was remarkable, attributed to the intrinsic motivation for learning which occurred when students were given flexibility in curriculum and topics of tangible interest. The evaluator’s report also documented the significant impact of the IVA program in establishing a positive school climate.