UNESCO Arts Education Week 2014: Bring the Arts to Your School!

As a vector of dialogue in the loftiest sense, art speeds up social inclusion and tolerance in our multicultural, connected societies. A painting, an artefact, a piece of ancestral music speak volumes about the history of civilizations and the ties that bind them. Young people must be taught to love art: it will make them understand each other better.
(Message by Ms Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO)

In 2014, International Arts Education Week takes place from 19-25 of May. The theme of this year’s program is Arts for Peace.

Arts Education has started to reappear in our curricula, course books and teaching practices, but we still need to reinforce its significance in our students’ intellectual and emotional development. Educational institutions, museums, publishers and online communities should continually promote and maintain Arts Education across the community.

The Anti-bully Squad by written by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Marzia Sanfilippo.

The Anti-bully Squad written by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Marzia Sanfilippo.

Why is Arts Education important?

“The benefits of introducing the arts and cultural practices into learning environments showcase a balanced intellectual, emotional and psychological development of individuals and societies. Such education not only strengthens cognitive development and the acquisition of life skills – innovative and creative thinking, critical reflection, communicational and inter-personal skills, etc – but also enhances social adaptability and cultural awareness for individuals, enabling them to build personal and collective identities as well as tolerance and acceptance, appreciation of others.”  (Source: UNESCO Arts Education website)

We would like to contribute to this event by advocating Arts Education in English Language Learning and Reading. On this Blog we have discussed the importance of the visual arts in reading education on several occasions. Here you can read over some of our musings:

Let us give you some lesson ideas to help integrate the Arts into your teaching practice.

Dedicate a lesson to ARTS AND PEACE

  • Discuss the idea of peace.
  • Let your students choose a form of artistic expression to create something related to peace. They could:
    •  write a poem,
    • write an essay or a story,
    • make a poster,
    • make a painting or a drawing,
    • illustrate a story,
    • learn a song,
    • mime a scene,
    • read a story. 

9783852722436_500The Anti-bully Squad

  • Practise the art of reading, and use ideas from these stories to talk about peace.
    • If you teach young learners, you can read the story Can I Play? written by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Valentina Mai. Download the Extra Project to make a Flag Garland from our Young Readers website here.
    • If you have lower level students, you will find this reader useful: The Anti-bully Squad by written by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Marzia Sanfilippo.


  • Plan a visit to your local gallery or museum. Contact the institution’s art educators – they always welcome groups and have fun and motivating sessions for classes.
  • If you cannot get a session with an art educator, guide your own class. Check out the museum’s website before you go.  Choose a few artworks and write some questions you would like to discuss about them. Read our post about inquiry-based teaching for more ideas.
  • Read or write a story in a museum! If you have a story to share about an artwork, go to the museum and tell the story in English. If there is an inspiring artwork that your class could connect to, go to the museum and create a story about it together. A real-life meeting with a work of art is always inspiring.


You might not be able to visit a museum. Take the exhibition to your class then. If you have a projector or an interactive whiteboard, just connect to the Internet, and access one of these online art collections.


English through ArtExplore ways to teach using the visual arts. Our resource book, English through Art – 100 activities to develop language skills,  written by Peter Grundy, Hania Bociek and Kevin Parker, is the product of Art in ELT, a writing workshop facilitated by the authors of the book at the 43rd Annual International IATEFL Conference in Cardiff in 2009. The resource book uses 50 works of art from the National Museum and Gallery of Wales.



  • Go to a concert or theatre performance.
  • School trips to concerts and theatres are always memorable experiences. Your school might make regular visits to theatres and concerts. If not, look into ways of organising it.

Don’t forget about yourself! Treat yourself to some art! Visit a gallery, spend some time in an online gallery, make some art, go to a dance event, go to a concert or to the theater.


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