What is arts in education?

Arts in education, sometimes referred to as “arts learning”, is an approach to teaching and learning that utilizes creativity, imagination, and artistic exploration to support student outcomes.

At Arts for Learning Connecticut, we do this through talented individuals and ensembles with deep experience and professional training: teaching artists.

Our arts learning programs fall into four categories:


Artistic presentations, often in an assembly or large-group setting.

Arts Workshops

Individual creative classes or experiences with significant teaching artist – student interaction, often in smaller-group settings.


Extended arts learning series in which the same students work with the same teaching artist(s) over multiple sessions.

Professional Development

Trainings for teachers in arts learning strategies.

See it in action…

Methodology & Pedagogy

AFLCT’s Arts Learning Framework is our articulation of the pedagogy that underlies our programs. It is built on four pre-existing educational models, each of which intersects with arts learning in important and nuanced ways. Arts for Learning Connecticut did not come up with these theories, processes, and practices. And while these concepts may have been defined by specific individuals and institutions—in practice, they’ve been developed and refined by countless educators (and students) across the world for as long as folks have been teaching and learning.

The four elements of the Arts Learning Framework are:

  1. National Core Arts Standards – a set of written descriptions of the specific abilities that students should possess as a result of high quality arts learning. They provide discrete learning outcomes, arranged by discipline and age, that define excellence in the field. In other words, they are the complete set of what students should be able to do after engaging in arts education programs. They were introduced in 2015 by a national coalition of educators, artists, academics, policymakers, and practitioners, and are managed by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education.
  2. Universal Design for Learning – UDL is a framework that guides the design and practice of inclusive teaching and learning based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Within the framework is a set of specific guidelines that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful learning opportunities. UDL was developed by a nonprofit education research and development organization called CAST, and traces its origins to the Universal Design movement in the wake of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  3. Social and Emotional Learning – According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” It is important to note that many scholars and educators have developed the ideas behind social and emotional learning in a number of ways over time; we are choosing to share the CASEL framework for its clarity and ubiquity, though it is by no means the only pathway to SEL—or even the “best” one.
  4. Culturally Responsive TeachingGloria Ladson-Billings, one of the seminal scholars of this movement, defined Culturally Responsive Teaching as “a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning.” As with SEL, there are a number of ways to approach the ideas and practices of Culturally Responsive Teaching, and we encourage you to think expansively about this work.

Arts for Learning Connecticut provides training to our teaching artists in the Arts Learning Framework, and works with leading educational researches and peer institutions across the country to continuously refine our methodology in order to better serve students.