Learning Through the Arts began in 1994 with a simple, inspiring idea: that if the arts were woven into all learning, students would be more engaged, and instruction more vivid and memorable.
In our first 20 years, working with over 200,000 students across Canada, we proved that this approach leads to better attendance, greater attachment to school, higher retention of learning, and, ultimately, increased academic achievement.
As we worked in schools in Regina, Fort McMurray, and Thunder Bay, we saw that the contemporary learning process we had developed resonated especially strongly with indigenous learners.
Through a unique Elder in Residence project in Fort McMurray, we learned about the similarities between our process and traditional indigenous approaches. For example, when indigenous youth learned a particular hands-on skill, an Elder would tell stories that helped students understand all the ways the skill is important to the community, placing the learning in context.