What could be more wonderful than a young child discovering the magic of creativity and learning that he has the ability to make something beautiful and expressive? Oddly, the availability of art education in the schools is a controversial subject. Constraints on school budgets have minimized or eliminated art classes in many schools.
Constraints on classroom time because of the many standardized tests now required as well as the dire results if schools do not test well have also made art classes a low priority. After all, is it important for a child to study art in school? According to art teachers, it is very important.
What the Arts Teach
According to professionals in art education, the students benefit from art classes in ways that impact on all areas of their lives. Unlike more traditional curricula, art is specific to the individual. When faced with a blank sheet of paper, there are no right or wrong answers. Students learn to depend on their own judgment rather than learn and apply strict rules. The arts teach that a problem can be solved in more than one way from more than one perspective.
Students learn more complex forms of problem-solving as well as the ability to view a “problem” as a possibility. They learn to communicate without words or even agreed-upon symbols, opening up their ability to convey and understand statements. Students learn the importance of the creative medium in conveying a message, allowing them a broader means of communicating their thoughts and feelings while helping them understand the messages of other’s art and giving them the ability to realize when a message is an attempt to manipulate their feelings.
What We Think
It’s not surprising that art teachers are in favor of art education. A survey of Americans, however, reveals that we overwhelmingly agree. More than 80 per cent of us agree that art classes improve a child’s attitude toward school and helps teach students effective communication. Nearly 80 per cent believe that reinstating art classes is the first step in “adding back what’s missing in public education” and that the need for art classes is great enough to warrant getting involved personally to increase the quality and availability of art education.