It always amazes me when I hear the study of art in public education referred to as “a minor subject”. In a time of budget cutting, the arts are the first to feel the ax and often are the last priority in recovery. Science, English, foreign languages and math are considered major subjects. Perhaps that is because the broad-based benefits of art education are not understood or are overlooked. So I am going to take advantage of this blog to point out some of the far reaching benefits of art education.
1. Art can stimulate creativity and creative problem solving, strengthening and developing right brain activity (visual, spatial, spontaneity), creating a more complementary balance for the left brain (verbal, controlled feelings, structured).
2. Art can enhance hand/eye coordination. One of my adult private students, an anesthesiologist, used to say that she wished all of the surgeons she worked with would study art, that she felt it helped to improve her hand/eye coordination.
3. Art promotes tolerance for different approaches to problem solving. Students should learn that there are many viable approaches to solving an artistic problem. There are infinite approaches to the same subject matter, using different viewpoints and media. It is valuable to learn that there are many valid solutions to the same problem.
4. Art history celebrates the artistic contributions and achievements of diverse races and cultures, promoting appreciation and understanding.
5. Students can learn that making art is about process and not only about product. There is trial and error in art, and experimentation. Learning to enjoy the process of artistic exploration can carry over to the processes of exploring science and creative writing.
6. Art education develops visual awareness and promotes appreciation of the natural world.
7. Art provides a constructive and positive vehicle for students to express their emotions and feelings. My students have often commented that spending time doing artwork “recharges their batteries” and actually improves their concentration for other school work.
8. Developing art and creative skills builds the student’s self-confidence, carrying over into other academic work.
Every career path can benefit from expanding creative ability, hand-eye coordination, and developing patience and appreciation for process. In all stages of life, people can benefit from the ability to connect with their feelings and emotions in a creative and positive way. Visual awareness not only enhances the quality of life, it also raises awareness of the importance of preserving the beauty and viability of the natural environment.
Your comments would be appreciated.