While the Australian Curriculum: The Arts establishes the authority of each of five art forms (Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts) it also supports arts activities 'that combine knowledge, skills, and/or techniques learned in two or more Arts subjects in a multiform or hybrid art work'. (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)). This signals an important and complementary approach to teaching the arts as five separate forms. Hybrid approaches typically seek out unifying themes or topics (for example, addressing elements that art forms have in common such as analysing the use of space in dance and visual arts or focusing on Leonardo Da Vinci’s contribution to painting, sculpture, architecture and the sciences). As the last example indicates, a hybrid arts approach can deliver high quality arts learning and also connect to other key learning areas. This process results in effective instruction in those learning areas but also registers positive changes in school climate and teacher collaboration.
Many teachers favour this hybrid approach, as it can be an efficient way of attending to a number of the arts and educational purposes simultaneously, which is a benefit in crowded classroom timetables. The tension with such an approach is always to ensure that the breadth gained by integrating art forms does not dilute the specific art form leanings captured in the content descriptors outlining the knowledge, understandings, skills and processes that teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn. This concern, however, should not hold teachers and schools back from engaging with the multiform arts approach. New cognitive science research shows that the arts are fundamental to all thinking; for example by stimulating fluency with symbol systems. In addition, when implemented effectively and with rigour, a multiform approach will advance the principles of good teaching across all learning areas by using hands-on, project-based learning infused with high levels of effective engagement from students.
This page links to resources designed to support multiform or hybrid arts teaching.