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To me it is easy-
Art is the most important subject we can teach to our children
- But I am sure some of you might need a little convincing that this statement, in fact, could be true. Hey, even if you'd consider it 50% true I would be happy :-) Anyway, if you are curious about what support of this statement I can dig up than you are invited to check back often for any new quotes, links to books and/or research articles, any stories from our art studio supporting my theory I might post here during any free time I might have.
Let Them Be Heard.
From the 2008 NAEA National Convention, New Orleans, LA. Credits: Susan Sward, Art Teacher & Wizard, and Emily Pichette, Student, Class of 2009, West Warwick High School, West Warwick, RI.
Why Arts Education?
Here is what the NaeA (National Art Education Association) has to say about it.
What does art education do for the individual and for society? Why do we teach art? How does art contribute to education at all levels? There are many good answers to these questions, but three stand out as crucial in today's social and economic climate. We believe that art-and therefore art education-means three things that everyone wants and needs.
Art Means Work
Beyond the qualities of creativity, self-expression, and communication, art is a type of work. This is what art has been from the beginning. This is what art is from childhood to old age. Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work-work done to the best of one's ability, for its own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done. There is a desperate need in our society for a revival of the idea of good work: work for personal fulfillment; work for social recognition; work for economic development. Work is one of the noblest expressions of the human spirit, and art is the visible evidence of work carried to the highest possible level. Today we hear much about productivity and workmanship. Both of these ideals are strengthened each time we commit ourselves to the endeavor of art. We are dedicated to the idea that art is the best way for every young person to learn the value of work.
Art Means Language
Art is a language of visual images that everyone must learn to read. In art classes, we make visual images, and we study images. Increasingly, these images affect our needs, our daily behavior, our hopes, our opinions, and our ultimate ideals. That is why the individual who cannot understand or read images is incompletely educated. Complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, and talk about visual images. Therefore, to carry out its total mission, art education stimulates language-spoken and written-about visual images. As art teachers we work continuously on the development of critical skills. This is our way of encouraging linguistic skills. By teaching pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret visual images, we enhance their powers of verbal expression. That is no educational frill.
Art Means Values
You cannot touch art without touching values: values about home and family, work and play, the individual and society, nature and the environment, war and peace, beauty and ugliness, violence and love. The great art of the past and the present deals with these durable human concerns. As art teachers we do not indoctrinate. But when we study the art of many lands and peoples, we expose our students to the expression of a wide range of human values and concerns. We sensitize students to the fact that values shape all human efforts, and that visual images can affect their personal value choices. All of them should be given the opportunity to see how art can express the highest aspirations of the human spirit. From that foundation we believe they will be in a better position to choose what is right and good.
10 Lessons the Arts Teach
by Elliot Eisner
1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity.
Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know.
The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.
SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002).
The Arts and the Creation of Mind
, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.
Interested in more? Here is a link to an article by the same author titled:
"What can Education learn from the Arts about the Practice of Education?"
Not convinced yet? The NaeA has more:
A Student with a Sense of
can create and appreciate human-made objects that go beyond function and may
be perceived as beautiful, whimsical, extraordinary, unique or emotionally engaging;
communicates effectively with others by creating, as well as appreciating a
synthesizes ideas, sees the big picture, crosses boundaries, and combines
disparate pieces into a meaningful whole;
understands another’s point of view, is able to forge relationships and feels
compassion for others;
creatively engages in problem-solving, benefits personally and socially from flexibility,
humor, risk-taking, curiosity, inventive thinking and games;
pursues more significant endeavors, desires and enduring ideas, has a sense of
purpose, inspiration, fulfillment, and responsibility in making informed choices towards
higher-order thinking skills and transformation.
A Visual ART Teacher is
in using diverse media, processes, and technology
about diverse cultures and art forms, past and
to making the visual arts accessible and meaningful to foster
to nurture every student’s talents and abilities
in captivating students in critical response to works of art and
at engaging students with a variety of learning styles
to the individual needs and interests of all students
at using a variety of assessment techniques to evaluate teaching
practitioner on current literature and best practices
to ongoing professional development
for art education to a variety of audiences, in school
in NAEA, state and local art education organizations
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