!nsp!re – ARTS EDUCATION WEEK: Why is Art Education Important?

In celebration of California Arts Education Week (Sep 8-14), this week’s posts will all focus on arts education.

This post, originally from kinderart.com, explores the reasons why art class, specifically,  can be an important contribution to well-rounded development. I found this interesting because it focuses on younger children. In addition to the information that’s been learned in a number of studies about “why” arts education is important, the writer (an educator, Andrea Mulder-Slater) offers specific activities that young students can do. Some suggestions are:

  • See if your students can make figures using torn paper. No scissors, no pencils, just paper. If you have more time, the torn paper can be glued on another sheet and painted with watercolors.
  • Have your students create picture stories. Everyone draws a series of images—use stick people and box-shaped houses. Once everyone has created a picture story, share the images to see if the other participants can decipher the “code.” See how many versions of the story develop.
  • Have your students imagine there is a hole in the wall. What is lurking behind the wall? Talk about it. Ask them to draw it.

While it may be tempting to dismiss some of these activities as play (because the do sound like fun!), the quality they share is that they engage the imagination.

For example, the first activity (having students make figures using torn paper) teaches them to think differently. They learn that art doesn’t have to be “drawing” or “painting”. It can be paper, clay, sticks, paper, steel, wood – anything! But beyond teaching students that you can create art from anything, it encourages non-traditional thinking; a skill which is highly coveted in many career fields. Tech, science, and the arts all need talented people with non-traditional, non-linear thinking skills. The more we can encourage participation in the arts at a young age, the better chance that these learnings will become ingrained into our young students, who will then go out into the world and change it – hopefully, for the better.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information California Arts In Education Week, click here to visit the California Arts Council.