In an unprecedented time of transition from in-person to virtual learning, art teachers have been scrambling for ideas on how to teach creative subjects remotely. Visual arts, music, theater, and many CTE courses all require hands-on lessons that do not translate to the virtual classroom.
The arts require skills, not just facts.
Traditionally arts education is a mix of lessons in history and theory combined with technique and production. While much of this learning translates well to lectures, the challenges of developing skills without access to materials, specialized equipment, and studio space are not something teachers could recreate remotely.
In the early stages of the pandemic, instructors worldwide began scouring the internet for ways to adjust their classrooms to remote learning. From this, a growing community of educators eager to support one another emerged. They shared tips, lesson plans, and meaningful ways to create online educational experiences for all age groups. And most of all, they made it work! New programs were developed to provide art supplies for students when they visited schools for meal pick-ups. Art teachers adjusted assignments to use household objects or things in nature, instead of traditional mediums. After school art programs became zoom calls, music education was adapted to small group video calls, and theater students submitted videos of themselves as classwork.
More than ever, artists across the globe began posting their work online, which had the potential to introduce students to art forms they hadn’t thought about before. Google Arts & Culture, teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries around the world to provide virtual tours of some of the most famous museums. Teachers leveraged this unique opportunity to teach art history in ways only an expensive trip once offered.
Illinois has recognized the importance of the arts during this pandemic and has released new recommended arts education benchmarks for teachers to follow for remote learning. This document suggests prioritizing the arts for the 2020-2021 academic year stating "Our students need the arts in their lives to not only survive the ways in which many of their lives have been upended, but to thrive."
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on education as a whole. Thanks to the tenacity of creative educators throughout the world, arts education has continued to thrive in schools despite many challenges. The opportunity for teachers and students to think outside the box has never been greater. One thing is for certain, the coronavirus outbreak has highlighted just how important art continues to be in education and the lengths educators will go to ensure it is not forgotten in the classroom.
By: Sharla Schuller