Learning in everyday life is holistic and integrated. The concept of integration underlines progressive ideas in education based on esthetical experience (Dewey, 1934). It is associated with constructivist learning theories encouraging active construction of meaning by authentic learning situations (Bruner, 1996).
Integration within the curriculum should engage children into authentic and holistic learning in a meaningful context with discrete outcomes in each subject. We refer on Russell-Bowie’s proposition to distinguish three models of integration: Service Connections, Symmetric Correlations and Syntegration (Russell-Bowie, 2009). The third model proposes to explore one topic by relating several subjects synergetically to develop academic achievement, respect for itself and others, self-expression and generic skills. Integration can also occur within the same discipline and is linked to strategies in teaching for creativity (Murphy, 2013).
Starting from theory-based practice, we focused on the following questions: Which forms of integration have been used in the transdisciplinary project of a musical comedy? Which theoretical support can help teachers to improve integration in further practice, particularly between music and visuals arts?
A musical comedy project involving 120 primary school pupils (10 to 12 years) has been prepared during two years. The realization has been related by videos of several lessons, the teacher’s journal, the final performance and the feedback of the teachers. The kind of relations between the disciplines had been analyzed to identify the level of integration according to the three models proposed by Russell-Bowie.
The analysis reveals that integration was more complete within music than between music and other disciplines like visuals arts and French. Musical skills have been developed progressively by creative learning sequences (Craft, 2005). The experience confirms the development of transversal skills like autonomy, collaboration and creative thinking through authentic learning situations. Nevertheless, visual arts only had service connections with music. On the teacher’s demand, we engaged a common reflection about theoretical inputs to stimulate integrated learning in these disciplines for the current project.
This led us to elaborate transdisciplinary teaching strategies focused on holistic and authentic learning in both music and visual arts. We propose to support the teacher’s work by theoretical framework of interartistic learning (Brandstaetter, 2008, 2009, 2013) to enhance deeper esthetical experience and understanding. These inputs should help generating new learning situations based on creativity and oriented on syntegration.