CMA Education Department & Common Core

The Education Department at the Columbia Museum of Art is dedicated to empowering educators and especially equipping arts educators with the tools to help our children become life-long learners in this competitive 21st century information-rich society. As such, we have embarked upon a new initiative which will help you navigate the transition between the old South Carolina State Standards and the implementation of the new national Common Core Standards. It is our goal to illustrate how the dynamic tours and programming offered at Columbia Museum of Art will help you and your students actualize the skillsets which are the intended learning outcomes of the Common Core Standards.

What is the Common Core?

The Common Core is a nationwide effort to transform the education system so that all students are afforded equal college readiness and career preparedness. In addition, students will achieve an increased level of efficacy across the four Anchor Standards:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening and Speaking
  4. Language

The goal of the Common Core is to help students master critical and analytical thinking both in and outside the classroom.

How Art Museums Advance Common Core Objectives

Aaron Howard once wrote that "Art is a question mark in the minds of those who want to know what's happening." In many ways the intent behind the Common Core is to help students articulate and develop critical questions so that they can shape a meaningful world view. In short, the Common Core standards help shape and foster intellectual curiosity—much the same way that the objects in an art museum help to do the same about the world around them.

At the Columbia Museum of Art we are developing new tour-based programming and resources which help bridge the gap between creativity, analytical and critical thinking, and the Common Core.

There are three major shifts from State Standards to Common Core Standards:

  • Reading and writing is now grounded in text
  • Complex tasks and academic vocabulary have increased
  • Knowledge-building is encouraged through non-fiction and informational texts [across all subjects]

In essence, visual art becomes the text from which students are asked to develop critical thinking skills.

Our tours and programming foster inquiry and teaches students how to view art as a text in which to articulate evidence-based learning. When students visit CMA and experience artworks as visual texts they develop just a few of the following skills: observing skills, recognizing patterns, thinking dimensionally, combining divergent concepts, using relevant evidence to support multiple view points, visioning, communicating, problem solving, and collaborating.

It is our aim that upon completing our tours and programming that students will leave the museum prepared for college and ready to advance in their careers because they will:

  • be excited about making art
  • trust their own thinking
  • be able to communicate their ideas

The advantage is that not only will students grow to become excited about art, their definitions about what constitutes art will grow exponentially.


Please consult this list of references for more information about the Common Core and be sure to book your tour and student programming today!

This information is adapted by the powerpoints and resources offered by MOCA at the following website: