Take Five

Arts in the 21st Century Classroom

Five ways the arts connect to 21st century skills


Skills for the Future! The 21st century skills our students need—technology, communication, global awareness, critical thinking, problem-solving—can be readily integrated into arts lessons, and vice versa.

Get real. Working artists of all kinds use computer technology and collaboration. Our students can do the same, using graphics programs to illustrate their works, creating digital videos, or sharing ideas about dance online.

Work in the cloud. Use Web 2.0 options like classroom wikis and shared documents in your arts teaching to encourage collaboration and technology literacy.

Bring the world into the classroom. The Internet is an amazing source of performance and graphic arts information. Illustrate lessons and lectures with examples of art from around the world to increase global awareness.

Stay open. Assign open-ended projects that encourage problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Art projects are perfect for this. Let students figure out how to paint a mural about electricity, choreograph a dance about chemical bonds, or stage an operetta of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Embrace interdisciplinary approaches. Jobs from the 20th century often involved doing the same thing all day, each worker doing a separate piece of the job alone. Today, collaboration and interdisciplinary work are the norm. They should be in the classroom, too. Art instruction belongs in the main classroom with reading, writing, and arithmetic to increase creativity throughout the entire school day.

Arts are Essential!

Current brain research confirms that rich context and multisensory instruction make even simple facts easier to learn and remember. When we’re trying to teach creativity, problem solving, and collaboration, we can’t expect to succeed with multiple choice quizzes. The arts are more essential than ever in education.



Rebecca Haden

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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