Integrating the visual-performing arts in the social studies curriculum = engagement and access

This article discusses the importance of using the arts as an access strategy to help students learn social studies. Although the study and use of the arts in elementary school curriculum has been shown to increase academic achievement overall (Brouillette, 2010; Darby & Catterall, 1994; Eisner, 1999, 2000; Holzer, 2009), the arts in general have all - but disappeared from the elementary school curriculum. Short of some cutting and pasting and working with construction paper, a disciplined, purposeful use of the visual and performing arts, from a standards-based perspective, is illusive at best to most elementary school teachers. Yolk (1998) has demonstrated the multicultural links made by an intentional arts education. Eisner (2000) and others (Damm, 2006; Grallert, 2009; Holzer, 2009; Raymond & Broderick, 2007) continue to demonstrate the need for a comprehensive arts education, but teachers face the practical reality of accountability and assessment in curriculum other than the arts, suggesting that they ignore and 'leave behind' the arts altogether.