CBSE Board has decided to introduce Art-Integrated Project work for classes I to X to promote Art-Integrated Learning in schools to make teaching learning Competency-Based and joyful. As part of this, at least one Art-Integrated Project in each subject shall be taken up by all students of classes IX and X from the academic session 2020-21, and students of classes I to VIII will also be encouraged to take at least one Art-Integrated Project (trans-disciplinary project)in a given academic year.
Board held discussions with several stakeholders, including schools, principals, teachers, NCERT, art professionals, etc., in this regard. A strong case has emerged for the integration of Art with education. It was realized that all disciplines being pursued by students at all stages require creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Therefore, when Art is integrated with education, it helps the child apply art-based enquiry, investigation and exploration, critical thinking and creativity for a deeper understanding of the concepts/topics. Secondly, Art Integrated learning is a strong contender for experiential learning, as it enables the student to derive meaning and understanding, directly from the learning experience. Thirdly, this kind of integration not only makes the teaching and learning process joyful, it also has a positive impact on the development of certain life skills, such as, communication skills, reflection and enquiry skills, un conditioning of the mind leading to higher confidence levels and self-esteem, appreciation for aesthetics and creativity, etc. Fourthly, this kind of integration broadens the mind of the student, and enables her to see the multi-disciplinary links between subjects, topics, and real life.
What is Art?
In the simplest of words, Art is the creative expression of an individual. This expression can be verbal, written, an enactment, or it can be visual, or any other form that has the potential or the ability to communicate human thoughts.
Why is Art important?
Artistic expression in music, poetry, dance theatre and in the creation of forms has been an integral part of human's growth and development Since times immemorial, what has survived the fissures and ravages of time is only Art Cave paintings, potteries/ seals/ornaments etc. found during excavation clearly indicate the importance of Art since the beginning of human civilization and it is through these that most of history is reconstructed. Art has the power of expressing the innermost thoughts of an individual. According to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, "Only man knows himself, because his impulse of knowledge comes back to him in its excess. He feels more intensely his personality than other creatures, because his power of feeling is more than can be exhausted by his objects. This efflux of the consciousness of his personality requires an outpour of expression. Therefore, in Art man reveals himself and not his objects'.
Art in education today
However, over the centuries, as the thrust of all education shifted to livelihood, the importance of Art in our lives, took a back seat more or less. In the education universe today, though at the level of primary education, many schools do promote Art, Dance, Theatre and Crafts, but as students’ progress to higher classes, core academic subjects take the stage, while Art is forgotten or relegated to the insignificant and/or unwanted background. There is some amount of 'stand-alone' Art promotion in higher classes on specific occasions; Annual days/sports day or any other such event that, requires a splash of energy/colours/joy. There are very few schools, if any, which might be promoting Art education exclusively even in the higher classes.
What do we mean by Art Integrated education?
It is a cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning based on collaboration between the teaching of subject with the teaching of Art (Visual performing etc.), where Art, in any of its multiple forms, becomes the primary pathway to learn the subject/topic and also of assessment. The integration is meant not only to make the learning process (of the chosen subject area for integration) joyful, but it also lends itself to imbibing a greater appreciation and understanding of the art form being utilized for this purpose.
Art Integration is not a replacement for Art education. Integration happens only after students have been directly taught the Arts. Without this background knowledge, neither the students nor the subject teachers will be able to integrate art in education. For example, the notes in Hindustani Classical Music can be aligned with the teaching of Fractions in Mathematics. However, without the knowledge of music notes, it will be impossible for the students to comprehend the link between the two.
Why is Art integration necessary in education?
The following words of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore are possibly the best answer to this question. In Gitabitan, he says, "'When I see the Universe through my songs, I recognize it, then only I know it Firstly, when Art is integrated with education, it helps the child apply art-based enquiry, investigation and exploration, critical thinking and creativity for a deeper understanding of the concepts/topics. All disciplines being pursued by students at all stages require creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. For example, the routine method would be involving studying metallurgy in Chemistry, or mitosis and meiosis in Biology. But art integration would provoke the student to ask questions such as - If I were a metal how would I artistically depict my journey of combination with other metals or how can I use a Nukkad Natak to depict mitosis/meiosis?
Secondly, Art Integrated learning is a strong contender for experiential learning, as it enables the student to derive meaning and understanding, directly from the learning experience.
Thirdly, this kind of integration not only makes the teaching and learning process joyful, it also has a positive impact on the development of certain life skills, such as, communication skills, reflection and enquiry skills, un-conditioning of the mind leading to higher confidence levels and self-esteem, appreciation for aesthetics and creativity, etc.
Fourthly, this integration broadens the mind of the student and enables her I him to see the multi-disciplinary links between subjects/topics of real life.
The Internet is studded with examples of integrating learning of difficult topics by the integration of some form of Art. For example, Mary Soon Lee has come out with a very unique Elemental Haiku, where students can learn about each element in Chemistry though a Haiku. Haiku is a traditional form of poetry in Japan. It consists of exactly 17 syllables and is generally used for depicting the inter relationships between the mind and the Nature. Hence, the options in Learning through Art are huge. The child/teacher need not be an artist of sorts to be able to take this forward.
Similar conclusion is arrived at by Devi Prasad, who while discussing one of the questions in his book, Arts-the Basis of Education, has written:
"Does art help children in the other subjects? Art is related to our visual experiences. Mental imagery is an essential part of the thinking process. Visual images are closely related to mental images. Art makes these images clearer and more concrete. The experiential aspect of art helps one go deeper into the other elements of life."
To sum up, in the words of Julia Marshall, Professor of Art Education, San Francisco State University, USA (in Art Education Journal, 2016), "The focus is not on the colour choices but rather the meaning, thinking and reasoning that the artistic process generates."
Therefore, it is possible to teach:
a) The planets in the universe or forests, oceans, etc. through Art, by each child choosing a planet/forest/ocean and making a travel brochure on it
b) Reactions and compounds in Chemistry by each child becoming the element/compound of his /her choice and then trying to mingle or not to mingle with others in the class. Lot of humor could be the hallmark of this exercise.
c) Learning the meaning and lines of a difficult poem by breaking each line into a dialogue spoken by Amitabh Bachchan or James Bond or set to music based on Hollywood songs, etc.
d) Elements in Chemistry through Tom Lehrer’s song- The Elements
Reasons for Arts Education taking backstage:
As stated in the NCERT Position Papers, the following are the reasons for Arts Education taking a backstage:
Subject-based approach to organize the curriculum:
The curriculum developed so far focusses only on the core disciplines. This approach tends to present knowledge as 'packaged', usually in textbooks, along with associated rituals of examinations to assess, knowledge acquisition and marks as a way of judging competence in the subject area.
Compartmentalization of Subjects:
The subject areas tend to become watertight compartments. As a result, knowledge seems fragmented rather than interrelated and integrated. The discipline, rather than the child's way of viewing the world, tends to become the starting point, and boundaries get constructed between knowledge in the school and knowledge outside.
Focus only on the Known: In the present system, what is already known gets emphasized, subverting children's own ability to construct knowledge and explore novel ways of knowing. Information takes precedence over knowledge, lending itself to producing bulky textbooks, 'quizzing' and methods of mechanical retrieval rather than understanding and problem solving.
You can download the detailed CBSE Circular on Art Integration here –
Detailed guidance note on Art Integration Towards Experiential Learning