Glass, D., Meyer, A., & Rose, D. (2013). Universal Design for Learning and the arts. Harvard Educational Review, 83(1), 98-119
Glass, Meyer and Rose make an argument in this article that the arts should be integrated into classrooms. The overarching framework is the idea of Universal Design for Learning, which is a transitional framework, hoping to move student engagement in new directions that take into account different learning styles, offer a methodology for teachers to follow to deliver multiple modalities to reach a wider student audience and encourage engagement with the material. UDL focuses on the why, what and how of teaching and learning.
The authors assert that not every student can be engaged in the same way, being unique, changeable individuals. Ultimately, to reach more students, one must have a flexible approach to teaching. Specifically they present the case that co-teaching the arts in the classroom presents a unique and highly exploitable opportunity to engage students in new ways. Given that the Arts are becoming increasingly marginalized in our school systems, Co-teaching opportunities with arts teachers, who may, it is argued by the authors, have more experience in engaging students of all different learning styles and abilities should not be missed.
I was particularly inspired by the author’s acknowledgement that while variability in ability and cognitive style results in frustratingly different student populations, this matrix of difference is roughly predictable, and when understood properly, can be planned for. I was often the outlier, as a child, this philosophy would have helped me immeasurably, especially in math. Visuals would have been helpful, but the teaching materials from the mid 1980’s were still heavily focused on rote memorization. How wonderful it would have been to have music incorporated in a math lesson, or painting, photography, or sculpture, origami? While UDL is so much more than this specific example, anyone looking for a method to engage a student that is constantly daydream-drawing in her notebook and not paying attention, this is an article for you.