New arts program will deepen students' critical thinking prowess

July 5, 2013 

Students from Emma E. Booker Elementary with artwork they completed with the University of South Florida education majors in the PAINT program. PHOTO PROVIDED

As an alumnus of both Manatee County schools and the University of South Florida (a master's in arts education), I was thrilled to read the July 2 Herald report about the program Partnership for Arts Integrated Teaching (PAINT).

Arts integration is a process which theoretically connects arts learning with other academic learning in ways that both are deepened.

The underlying premise is that the active participation in fine arts engage students both emotionally and intellectually in ways that lead to open-ended inquiry that in turn results in interdisciplinary understanding.

Interdisciplinary understanding is the capacity to integrate the knowledge and modes of thinking from two or more disciplines in order to create products, solve problems, and/or offer explanations in ways that might not otherwise have been possible.

This kind of outside-the-box thinking is by definition creative.

However, I did not see mentioned that this initiative actively involves the county's fine arts teachers as well as the teachers of other subjects. Arts teachers have so much to offer and in a continuous sequential manner that teaching artists and consultants are unable to match.

We, in both the arts and education communities, need to build bridges to the minds and worlds of experts, educators, to those of students and their parents to create success in the 21st century's rapidly changing world. PAINT is a good start.

Cynthia Campbell

Bradenton

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