CAPE’s Arts Integration Resource Book

One of the books I like to read is Renaissance in the Classroom; Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning (2001), edited by Gail Burnaford, Arnold Aprill and Cythia Weiss (New Jersey: Erlbaum & Associates). This engaging resource documents the work of the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE). Although this was published 15 years ago it remains as a useful touch-stone for current practitioners of arts integration.

There is a great historical review—not too long—up to and including the current era of the use of arts and their integration into the curriculum. For example, way back in 1867, our textiles were deemed deficient when compared to world standards. When our designs were viewed as lacking in quality in Paris at the exhibition of that year, a new role for the arts as part of the curriculum was suggested, and drawing was soon mandated in Massachusetts. Also interesting was the rise of Dewey and the progressives who valued art’s place at the curriculum table for how they reveal student thinking and development. Most importantly, the idea of arts integration and school improvement is documented in this book. Today the arts struggle for a place at the curriculum table by arguing that they are intrinsically worth including and they are extrinsically worth including because they have an effect on schools who want to reform, improve, or excel.

The book also has a fabulous approach to documenting the work of students in Chicago who were fortunate to cross paths with CAPE by including other writers and their ideas, lots of pictures of the art work, and even ideas around assessment. The book has helpful lesson plans, planning documents, suggestions for finding engagement points and the idea of using big ideas to cultivate student access points to the curriculum. For those who are interested in arts integration, Renaissance in the Classroom; Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning is well worth the read. It strengthens the idea that your students are likely to benefit from integration of the arts in education.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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