Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
School of Art
The purpose of this case study was to investigate the inclusion of spirituality in a five-week art unit. Spirituality was defined as the interconnectedness with nature and all living things, with human beings and with a higher power. This study was conducted within two Central Illinois public schools, working specifically with third and fourth grade students. Eleven students participated in the study by completing the unit, sharing their sketches/artwork, and participating in an audio-recorded interview conducted by the teacher/researcher. Daily teacher observations/reflections were also used as data.
The spirituality unit consisted of students exploring the subject of light in the framework of the three-part definition. The unit began with creating the sense of awe by students walking into a darkened candle lit classroom, covering works or artists and images from the different categories, creating sketches, and making Styrofoam plate prints. Interviews were held once the unit was completed.
In conclusion, this thesis determined that the teacher must find a definition for spirituality that is acceptable for the public school setting, create lessons that include spirituality by finding a broad subject matter to generate a variety of spiritual related outcomes, and acknowledge the influence of the teacher’s predisposition toward spirituality as a factor in the success of teaching a spiritually-infused lesson. The thesis also determined that students will respond to a spiritually oriented lesson with a sense of awe and draw upon their personal experiences, cross-curricular knowledge, and the three-part definition of spirituality in their artwork and responses. When creating artwork, students represented images that showed interconnectedness to human beings and nature/living things, as opposed to interconnectedness to a higher power while in conversation, eleven percent of the students’ responses mentioned a connectedness to a higher power. This thesis aims to offer art educators useful tips on including spirituality in their art lessons and provide some ideas on how to create a more holistic approach to elementary art education.
McHenry, Kimberly Ann, "Investigating Spirituality through Elementary Art Lessons: a Case Study" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 765.