How Can we Maximize the Value of Art and Music in Education and How Can it be Blended with more Traditional Subjects (Math, Science, History etc.)?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / / Global Search for Education The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question: How can we maximize the value of art and music in education and how can it be blended with more traditional subjects (math, science, history etc.)?

Traditionally in schools music, sports and arts are well viewed in school festivals. You can see art in the school halls and in classrooms’ walls. But visiting schools all over the world I have seen schools with none or very little student works on the walls. By putting students’ drawings in open the school administration and the teachers show that they appreciate students and their art.

Mathematics gives enormous amount of possibilities to link arts and architecture. From the very first grades you can teach the students to observe their environment. What shapes can you see in the buildings on your way home? Does some proportions look nicer than others? What kind of shapes can you see on the surfaces on buildings, streets, fabrics? Together with geography, history and arts teachers the math teachers can make a broad entirety of the influence of the visual art and construction art to our environment. On my journeys I have taken photos of gardens’ and buildings’ geometrical shapes.


Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. Photo: Maarit Rossi

You can find fine shapes and their combinations of street tiles also near you, in the suburbs. Teaching students to observe the beauty around us and its link to history and culture is an excellent way of lifting the meaning and appreciation of art in our lives.

The students in the upper grades are charmed and motivated when linking mathematics to visual and construction arts. Again the teacher has a possibility to work with subject unity. When my students are learning 3D geometry they are building miniatures of city parts. They build the parts of paper and glue them according to their plans. The city is built on a movable surface, where you can later put miniature trees and color the buildings. With history teacher they can study the different construction styles. The finished cities are put in the open for the whole school.

In mathematics you often practice finding patterns in numbers and shapes. In this content the task could be: What kind of shapes and their combinations can cover a surface? What kind of pictures continue in surfaces or regular solids? The art teacher can take Escher’s interesting art under study and the students can plan their own continuous shapes on regular solids’ surfaces.

When studying parallel and perpendicular lines in geometry you could also work with optical illusions. How to make two line segments look different long when they actually are the same?

Together with arts you could practice the perspective with one point or two points. Has a human always drawn pictures three-dimensional? A trip to the nearest arts museum will deepen the students’ understanding for cultural development and human’s influence in culture during a longer time perspective. How long time line segment you have to draw, how to divide it to different eras and where will the human step in?

In the history of mathematics we can find many interesting people whom we can call their era’s renaissance- people due to their versatility. Studying Leonardo Da Vinci’s human propositions, his skills in drawing and three-dimensional paintings, can be brought into many math lessons. Mr. Fibonacci can be introduced for example in number patterns and Durer’s number square, magic square 1524, in basic calculations.

Mathematics will show its strength when handling these interesting subjects while studying these concepts in mathematics. We don’t want that mathematics is a mystery we can’t understand. We don’t want to use math as the ancient secret societies used. Their logo was a geometric shape that comes out of two equilateral triangles.