EducationMEYRSchool Initiative

Interdisciplinarity through Arts Education

On June 26, 2024, the Education Officers (EOs) for Humanities, Languages, and Early Years engaged in artistic activities that enhanced their awareness of arts education, knowledge, and teambuilding by merging the arts with other subjects in the light of socio-political and environmental concerns. Dr. Charmaine Zammit, Art Education Officer, invited Mr. Carmel Bonello, a retiring art teacher and artist, to discuss his dedicated work both as an art teacher and an artist. His colourful presentation provided knowledge and inspiration to the EOs, who engaged in conversation with the artist afterward.

Following the artist’s talk, Dr. Charmaine Zammit held a presentation and two workshops that stimulated reflections on the definition, importance, and benefits of an interdisciplinary approach through arts education. Discussions focused on the benefits of interdisciplinarity in enhancing transferable skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. An interdisciplinary approach to education prepares students both for their current life and also for an uncertain and ever-changing future.

Other discussions highlighted the challenges teachers often face when implementing an interdisciplinary approach, particularly the lack of time to collaborate. Recommended strategies included curriculum integration, encouraging partnerships between arts departments and other disciplines, and providing professional development to plan and implement interdisciplinarity effectively.

Examples of interdisciplinarity were illustrated by sharing images and best practices from teacher training held at MVPA in July 2023 as part of the Erasmus+ Critical Arts Education for Sustainable Societies (CARE/SS) Project. In this project, three teachers from each of the arts disciplines (Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Art) focused on socio-political themes such as ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Respect for Diversity’ to start collaborating on project-based learning experiences. Engaging in this interdisciplinary challenge, the teacher-participants delved into creative writing to develop scripts, compose music, choreograph dances, and create props using self-hardening clay and other items they found around them. Another shared example of interdisciplinary teacher training showed the recently held CARE/SS Project Multiplier Event on May 27, 2024, where participants collaborated to communicate through art and music.

Inspired by these examples, during the first workshop, the EOs for Humanities collaborated to create art through markings, lines, shapes, imagery, using any medium of their choice while listening to music. They were asked to feel like kids again without inhibitions of creating a mess. An evaluation session afterward revealed that some of them found it very challenging to merge their visual expressions of emotions with those of others, but gradually, they found a way to collaborate on expressing them together in one artwork. A few others still decided to work on separate artworks. This led to questions about the need for a change in mentalities that still protect individual work and individual ways of doing things.

During the second workshop, the EOs collaborated with others from different subject areas to discuss a socio-political or environmental issue of their choice and come up with a creative work to transmit their message to others. Everyone felt creative. Their creations resulted in performances, poetry, song lyrics, pictures, stories, and paper origami. Overall, their creative process and presentations not only entertained the rest but also facilitated the exchange of ideas concerning EOs’ collaboration for interdisciplinarity through arts education as a professional learning community.