Art and education

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Why does art (or why should art) play a fundamental role in education? This isn't a test question, just an invitation to help me think this through…

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  1. Halley's Mommy says

    I believe art, music, and even math can help us quiet those muttering bits in our brains that normally only turn off when we sleep. I think it’s something we need to train ourselves in – to practice. That quieting that chatter helps us rest our brain & work more efficiently.
    There is a radiolab episode about this that I just listened to this weekend… not on art persay, but on the topic on language. A woman had a stroke and experienced silence in her head & slowly rehabilitating back to normal functioning, the chatter all came back. She realized how much she missed that silence & how needed it is.
    This is an untraditional answer to your question, but I believe in some ways by approaching art from a left-brained perspective (what does it tangibly GIVE us?) we’ve been missing the “point” all along. Like we remind in toddler art group, the PROCESS is the point not the product… it’s the experience, the practice, and the process.

  2. ms. bug says

    Because some students are visual and hands-on and need to explore mathematical and scientific relationships with their hands and eyes. Or in three dimensions.
    Because creativity stretches the brain and builds bridges for problem-solving.
    Because not all kids want to sit and listen to blah blah blah all day and need a reason to come to school.
    Because the brain is a muscle and imagination keeps it fit.
    Because there is power in making the lines and shapes yourself your own way, and building something from scratch.
    Because if we don’t cultivate creative people our world will be difficult and heavy to live in, in the future.

  3. says

    Great question, Jean! I wrote a series about why creativity matters, which I put into a free ebook that I just set up today on my blog. SO that would serve as my long answer. But my short answer would be that art is a form of expressive language and a lightning rod for divergent thinking. I think both are critical in your traditional definition of “education”. But I also think art is important in the larger, whole-child picture, because I personally value beauty and the therapeutic quality of creating, and feel that creativity is a divine quality. OK, so maybe that wasn’t such a short answer….

  4. says

    complicated ideas out in their minds, so they make sense in their world, and a great way to experiment with trial and error. Here is a poem I always think of when there is children and art on my mind:
    The child is made of one hundred.
    The child has
    a hundred languages
    a hundred hands
    a hundred thoughts
    a hundred ways of thinking
    of playing, of speaking.
    A hundred.
    Always a hundred
    ways of listening
    of marveling, of loving
    a hundred joys
    for singing and understanding
    a hundred worlds
    to discover
    a hundred worlds
    to invent
    a hundred worlds
    to dream.
    The child has
    a hundred languages
    (and a hundred hundred hundred more)
    but they steal ninety-nine.
    The school and the culture
    separate the head from the body.
    They tell the child:
    to think without hands
    to do without head
    to listen and not to speak
    to understand without joy
    to love and to marvel
    only at Easter and at Christmas.
    They tell the child:
    to discover the world already there
    and of the hundred
    they steal ninety-nine.
    They tell the child:
    that work and play
    reality and fantasy
    science and imagination
    sky and earth
    reason and dream
    are things
    that do not belong together.
    And thus they tell the child
    that the hundred is not there.
    The child says:
    No way. The hundred is there.
    -Loris Malaguzzi
    Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

  5. says

    Because the arts are the heart-beat of imagination.
    Because curious, responsive, engaged, inspired, brave and original thinking will help to empower a generation of world contributors, generous participators and innovative leaders.

  6. Jen says

    1. We are creative beings
    2. Learning is a creative process
    3. Solving problems takes creativity
    4. creating brings us a sense of confidence
    5. We have a great need to create!

  7. says

    Art, of course, is so important, educationally speaking, for all of the ways mentioned. Creativity, self-expression, imagination, curiosity, innovation are all nurtured by the arts in education.
    But, may I add, the mainstays of education (the so-called “three R’s”) are also supported by art. Art techniques help to develop the small motor skills and story-telling concepts that support writing. Art encourages the symbolic thinking that supports reading development. The patterns and spatial ideas that emerge in art support math skills. And the planning and organization that goes in to creating art support all of children’s academic learning across the board.
    Art and education definately go hand-in-hand!

  8. says

    I second Vera’s recommendation! Eisner is considered by many to be the father of arts education. He’s spent his life considering this question, hIs writing is thoughtful and clear, and I always reference him when advocating for the arts.

  9. says

    I once heard a fabulous panelat a TECHNOLOGY confernce, no less, where leaders of various industry type companies were discussing the need to think outside the box. They said creative thinking may be the one thing we can do that other countries can’t. Other countries may drill math and science into their children, or they may be able to work for a lower wage, so they get our production type jobs. But creativity needs freedom to develope and innovation needs creative thinkers to imagine possibilities that don’t exist.

  10. says

    Art education is important because it is open ended, it can be returned to and revised and reshaped each time we look at it. There are definitely some tangible motor skills and social development that comes from art, but there’s something special about watching a child get lost in an orange crayon or realize that he gets to go pick rocks from the backyard to paint.

  11. Michaela says

    Short answer (I don’t have time to get on my soapbox about why art is important… plus I’d just be preaching to the choir here!): Not everything has a “right” or “wrong” answer, and art is one of the best ways to teach kids creative thinking and get their minds engaged in a way that traditional subject matter doesn’t do. It is so important to their development as a whole person that it just can’t be brushed aside as a fluff class.

  12. Miriam says

    Art is food for our souls. If we do feed the souls of our children, they will grow up to be complete human beings that think further, feel further than what is writen in the books.

  13. Alea says

    I just skimmed through the comments and didn’t exactly see what I was thinking – although there were some great comments. I was thinking art helps your brain, like music does, just to think differently about things, which in turn helps with subjects such as math. Art itself is good in it’s own right, but I th ink you could convince a non-artsy type that it can help with the “core” subjects. Very basic answer, I know – and it’s not very well written – hope I made sense!

  14. says

    There is a radiolab episode about this that I just listened to this weekend… not on art persay, but on the topic on language. A woman had a stroke and experienced silence in her head & slowly rehabilitating back to normal functioning, the chatter all came back. She realized how much she missed that silence & how needed it is.

  15. says

    art opens our minds and makes us see things from different angles!
    -future high school art/art history teacher :)

  16. says

    Isn’t it true that doing art uses our left brain while math and other educational disciplines use the right? Using our left brain is very important. It helps us think outside the box, think critically and creatively. I think this will help us to be better people, writers, friends, parents, and partners. I think art is essential because it is what gave me joy in school over the other disciplines and without it I wouldn’t have been very happy in school.

  17. says

    Oh my, art in schools is vital. It helps kids figure out that not every problem needs to get solved by following A+B+C because sometimes you can swing past X and through O to arrive at a different (yet valid) conclusion. Kids need the SPIRIT in art, they need to learn the visual voice that can create stories of beauty, or hurt, or fear, or joy or hope. To say things that can’t be said with words alone. Art curriculum can employ a wide variety of skills, reinforcing their relevance and importance in life (geometry in creating shapes, chemistry in mixing paint or glazes, engineering in building sculpture, verbal skills in reacting to their own work or the work of others, written or spoken, cultural and earth appreciation in examining art from other times and places…). I teach art to high school students and see daily what art brings to my students. Pride and accomplishment in their eyes, a “safe place” to create and take risks, a place where struggle is sometimes needed to learn past ideas, where they can come face to face with a splash, dot, line of paint and see it as beauty. All of this and more makes me feel compelled to fight to keep art in school (my very own district included) and it brought me to this blog in the first place. This blog brings such inspirational idea that I can use with my toddler son (and his toddler art group) and in some cases, I can use these ideas with my older students. Thanks Jean!

  18. says

    I believe in all the Creative Arts and Performing Arts as pivotal to education. They are ways to encourage kids to think creatively and our society needs creative thinkers more than ever. They are also ways to respond to others – again, our society needs individuals to empathise with others more than ever.
    The Visual Arts in particular are incredibly important to we humans, child or adult, because they provide us with a way to express ourselves. A sensory way, a way without right or wrong, and one that truly does feed our imagination and emotions. Art Education seems to me to transmit culture, to ask us to think and respond rather than be passive, and to show us many different media, one of which may turn out to be the best means of transmitting our particular dream to others.

  19. says

    I have seen my boy express his emotions in his drawings, when he couldn’t find his words. (An angry picture was drawn when he missed out on doing something.)
    When he was first at school he would substitute a drawing of a thing when he didn’t know how to spell the word. Putting in a little house as it was too difficult to spell out ‘house’.
    Now he is older he draws to work out how things work. Like steering wheels turning wheels. He is thinking in drawings
    i dont think he is exceptional, humans are visual beings. We remember pictures, colours or logos far easier than names or words.
    In my opinion art allows children to communicate, gel ideas and express themselves far earlier than language permits them to do so. But better still there is no right or wrong with art.

  20. says

    Because art allows creativity to take a tangible form. It lets us see what we think and feel and to show it to others. And any truly creative endeavor (creating from nothing)is important because it feeds innovation. For the people who say science and technology is THE thing, I would say that art education allows kids to flex their creative muscles and I whink we all know that THE word in science and technology is INNOVATION. Art education helps make kids into creative thinkers and that’s what innovation requires.