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Although at academic settings, creative, arts-based teaching methods are not common, they have a long tradition in the practice of applied social sciences.
Arts-based teaching methods are an alternative way to explore issues and acquire knowledge alongside classical teaching methods. Thy have a special potential for the treatment of complex and/or abstract issues such as migration, social heterogeneity and questions about the design of social coexistence in connection with diversity. When dealing with these and similar themes, one's own experiences, feelings and views often also play a role and stereotypes and prejudices are involved. Therefore, the confrontation with such social phenomena requires the creation of spaces in which experiences and emotions can be expressed and discussed. Creativity and art promote self-expression and self-reflection and are an important path for learning and teaching multidimensional and complex issues.
The special significance of creative and arts-based methods was pointed out in the UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education. It was emphasizes there that creative-aesthetic education is the basis of social development and learning processes (UNESCO, 2012). Creativity is not only a motor for innovation, but also represents a special access to cultural diversity and related collective and individual migration experiences. Socio-cultural identities and migration histories can be represented and preserved through various forms of artistic expression. At the same time, bridges can be created between different cultures and the lives of migrants. Creativity and art therefore enable a special form of dialogue and interculturality. Creative arts-based methods are an opportunity to promote social togetherness, mutual respect and appreciation of diversity. They make it possible to deal with social heterogeneity and are a key to cultural and social participation and integration. Creative and arts-based methods make it possible to deal with personal and social issues and to shape creatively a common future. Creativity and art enable access to people with a migration history and provide them to with a path to their own migration history.
In the classroom, creative methods can create space for new potentials that might not be available with other classical methods of teaching.
Through creativity and artistic forms of expression, things can be expressed that cannot be expressed in words. For students with a migration background, they represent an opportunity to make their experiences and needs visible and known. In addition, creative methods are an opportunity to create a sense of togetherness through joint creative group projects.
It should be noted that many arts-based projects are aimed at more privileged social groups while less privileged social groups may have limited access to cultural and artistic offerings. In some ways, creative arts-based methods hold the danger of re-producing dominant cultural patterns. Therefore, a reflexive attitude is as necessary as the acceptance and appreciation of diversity. Moreover, it is very important to try and give all groups access to art in general and creative methods in particular. At the same time, resources are limited when it comes to implementing creative methods in institutional contexts. There is often a lack of time, personnel and financial resources. Therefore, creative and arts-based methods often face the question of their measurable output. In principle, creative processes are difficult to control from the outside and the artistic product cannot be calculated in advance.
Creativity and arts can touch sore points in the biography of people. It is important to take into account that people may feel overwhelmed by emotions that come up during the creative process or follow it. It is therefore crucial to plan how to handle such personal crises and to collaborate with professionals who can offer support.
UNESCO (2012). Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education. Online available at: [23.09. 2019].
Suggestions for further reading:
Beghetto, R. A., Kaufman, J. C., & Baer, J. (Eds.) (2015). Teaching for Creativity in the Common Core Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
Marshall, J. (2015). Transdisciplinarity and Art Integration: Toward a New Understanding of Arts-based Learning across the Curriculum. In: Studies in Art Education, (55/2), 104-127.
Sawyer, K. R. (Ed.) (2011). Structure and Improvisation in Creative Teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.