Arts Can Teach

Arts Can Teach

Adult Education

Karen McClellan, Director and Artist Educator

Short Interview

Arts Can Teach offers a program in schools that facilitates artist-teacher collaborations in all subject areas. The artists are in dance/creative movement; puppetry; drumming; visual arts; music. Arts Can Teach also partners with local organizations to develop programs to engage and support newcomer Canadians as well as Windsor Essex multicultural and francophone communities. Karen’s vision for Arts Can Teach recognizes the importance of collaborative efforts between teachers and artists to incorporate and expand students’ classroom experience to include the arts across various subject areas.

Fautley and Savage (2010) observe that teachers have “found cross-curricularity to be a vital, driving aspect of their work in recent years” (p. 1). Moreover, Cope and Kalantzis (2002) state, “multimodal channels of meaning [are] now so important to communication” (p. 2). When teachers engage their students in multimodal means of teaching and learning, it allows them to engage in topics more deeply and from a variety of angles. For example, introducing dance in a literacy or science classroom can help enable students to think about movement as a mode for storytelling, or it allows them to think about their body as a fluid system that allows various movements during dance. In addition, working with an artist to introduce dance in the classroom encourages teachers and students who may be shy or feel like dance is outside of their comfort level to actively participate in a classroom environment that bridges between dance literacy, written and oral storytelling, and spatial literacy.

Karen also speaks about introducing and using music in literacy classrooms. Music is a mode of literacy that can inspire stories and enhance storytelling. Together, music, writing, drama, and dance are some of the possible modes that when combined can be illuminating and exciting and give learning new dimensions. Listen below as Karen articulates the benefits of artist-teacher collaborations within schools.

Linda Lord, Adult Educator

“So you have got a generation, probably we are in the second generation, where play is irrelevant. Play is, why would we do that? But play is where we expand our repertoire. We learn how to be other people when we play. We learn that we can hurt each other when we play. We learn problem-solving. We learn negotiating. Which is why I love role play, and again, especially for the kids in recovery because they get to play and practise who they think they want to be when they are not held hostage by their disease.” – Linda Lord, adult educator, Arts Can Teach.

Linda, an educator with Arts Can Teach, works with adolescents in schools and adults in the community. As Linda herself describes, she has also been working as “a therapeutic life coach for 22 years, and in that capacity, you are working with people’s core personalities, their learning styles, their goal, their action plans, what their expectations are, what are some of the challenges that they need to overcome.” She works particularly with adolescents and adults at risk, and those in recovery programs.

Linda sees her work with Arts Can Teach as non-traditional teaching as it allows teachers and students to engage in various art forms across the curriculum. Through her work in collaboration with school teachers and their classes, and taking the teacher’s lead on which curricular pieces need to be embedded in the lessons, Linda focuses on ways to weave in dramatic role-play meaningfully. Linda states that dramatic role play “opens up and expands a student’s opportunity to play with language and to play with character and making learning three dimensional.” Wagner (1998) as cited in Macy, 2016 states, “teacher-led drama in the classroom is a powerfully social act which engages the intellect and the emotions, it is an activity that actively engages children in learning in their ZPD [zone of proximal development]” (p. 311). Similarly, Linda finds that role play is a great way to build trust and encourage creativity with learners of all ages in traditional and non-traditional learning spaces.

When working with at-risk youth and youth in recovery, Linda finds that using props, creative clothing, and role-play is a great way to explore, learn, and have fun. She says, “We want to just be somebody else today.” And they [here referring to youth in recovery] are like, “Okay!” And so, I mean, when you think about that environment, it is amazing to me that we have created a level of trust that they can put on clothes that do not belong to them that make them look, in some cases, beyond ridiculous and can laugh and have fun. Even in the seriousness of their recovery, residential recovery program.” Dramatic role play draws upon multimodalities to help learners explore ideas and build meaning in new ways.

Check out Arts Can Teach website link here: