In his closing key note address for the a2ru conference, Groundworks: Improving and supporting practice in the third space, Steven Tepper, Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, discussed the future of the creative campus and the implications for arts integration within the research university.
His talk was both informing and inspirational in a way that allowed conference attendees to dream about the future of arts integration on their own campus.
According to Tepper, higher education is likely the single largest patron of the performing arts at the beginning of the 21st century. A 2014 study conducted by the NEA and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that arts education added $7.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011 alone. The report further indicates that for every $1 dollar spent on arts education, 56 cents is generated elsewhere in the U.S. economy.
These reports indicate the arts have both intrinsic and instrumental value in the context of higher education. What I found more interesting however, is the inconsistency between what students are expressing they want from higher education and what is provided by institutions of higher learning.
A Teagle Foundation Study of Double Majors in 2009 identifies that creativity is a core value for the rising generation. 84% of students say that thinking creatively is an important or very important skill to learn in college. This is compared to 60% who say solving quantitative problems is important. Additionally, 92% say that a career that allows one to be creative is important.
A report released in 2015 by Americans for the Arts indicated that creativity is one of the top three personality traits most important to career success according to U.S. employers. Arts Education: Preparing Students for the Workplace highlights the following most sought after personality traits by employers.
Another report by the Teagle Foundation suggests that 37% of students report coursework does NOT allow them to be creative. 67% report that classes are NOT intellectually playful, and 70% say they are generally NOT allowed to take assignments in different directions. So why is there such a drastic disconnect between what students say they want, what employers say they want from students, and what’s being offered in the class room?
I don’t have an answer for this question. My area of focus in higher education and arts leadership hopes to explore effective methods for bridging this gap and for making meaningful contributions between arts, creativity, and STEM focused departments.
Teachhub.com published a list of 12 ways to bring the arts into your classroom that may help facilitate creative thinking in disciplines outside of the traditional arts fields. Encouraging students to step outside of traditional higher education models is the first step for creating an environment where arts and creativity occurs across all disciplines in higher education. Take a look at the list and ask yourself if any of these ideas can work in your classroom. It may be a small step to encouraging creative output but it’s the little steps that often lead to big changes.
- Have students write a script
- Have Students create a work of art
- Have students use music to “illustrate” a concept
- Have students create a memory dance
- Take students to see a play that connects to the curriculum
- Have students write a song
- Have students create a poster, brochure, or advertisement
- Use art, music, or dance as a writing prompt
- Connect math and music
- Teach art, music, dance, or theater history through discipline related historical context
- Have students create a PSA
- Introduce students to artistic works that match your curriculum
As always, feel free to comment below.