Art and mathematics: Enhancing achievement through curricular design
Glaring deficiencies in the mathematical achievement of American youth, as evidenced by national and international studies, indicate that the demand for mathematically literate persons will continue to exceed the supply unless wide-ranging educational changes are instituted. Educators must develop innovative and creative intervention programs to aid students in growing mathematically. To this end, we explore an alternative approach which would supplement current teaching practices with a curriculum interrelating the studies of mathematics and art. Students in grades five through eight are targeted for the project. Developing the curriculum model, we review interdisciplinary, cultural, and motivational considerations in the first three chapters. Recent research is cited from the fields of physics, education, psychology, sociology, and medicine. These studies lend support to the premise that the teaching of mathematics through art is not only feasible but educationally sound. In chapter four, we investigate some of the many connections between art and mathematics, then focus on the concepts of ratio, proportion, and symmetry. This material can be used by teachers to extend their mathematical understanding and to relate the discipline to the realm of art. Additionally, the chapter can serve as a source of reference material helpful in creating and planning additional student learning experiences. The activities chapter incorporates premises of the Standards (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989) with an interdisciplinary, intercultural, visual and tactile constructivist teaching approach. Both cognitive and affective objectives are included, thus recognizing the importance of developing all facets of a student's capabilities. The goal is to encourage reluctant learners to comprehend the contributions of mathematics to world culture, thus stimulating pupil interest in further mathematical study. Appropriate components are included to enhance student experience with reading and writing in the language of mathematics. Activities facilitate the growth of mathematical communication. Connections among mathematics, other school subjects, culture, and practical applications in everyday life are reinforced.