August 21, 2018
When your students take a well-constructed art class, there is so much more to gain than drawing or painting skills. Here is a list of just 10 not-so-obvious gifts that you give your kids when they receive a stellar art education.
1) The Gift of Problem-Solving
In the art room, there is always a new problem to solve. In fact, each art “project” could be accurately described as an art “problem”. When students are presented with a challenge and simple guidelines, their problem-solving skills meet their personal interests and BAM! A beautiful, unique solution begins to come alive! This type of creative thinking is not only helpful in the art room, but in the real world where global, communal, and personal problems await a problem-solver with excellent solutions.
2) The Gift of Critical-Thinking & Higher-Level Thinking
I have never seen another school subject naturally provoke critical-thinking like the arts do. Critical-thinking is explored in the arts as we evaluate artworks and artists, brainstorm solutions to problems, determine the most effective solution, create solutions based off of our learned information, then analyze and reflect on our results. Skills like these help students to make wise and effective choices not only in the school years, but throughout their lives.
3) The Gift of Self-Awareness
My favorite gift the arts give is the exercise of self-awareness. Although the source of self-awareness eludes many, I have watched time and time again how students develop their opinions, question their beliefs, and come out the other side more aware of themselves within an ordinary day of art class. In an intentional art room, students are asked questions about themselves that go deeper than their dislikes or likes. They might sound like this: “Was it okay for this artist to do this? Why or why not?”, “What pictures best represent you and why?”, “How can you illustrate a scene showing your opinion on a current social issue?” These questions may not ever be asked outside of the art room, but when prompted to answer, students must dig deep, question themselves, and make decisions about what they stand for, what they carry, and what all of that means to them.
4) The Gift of Cultural & Others-Awareness
Art is its own language, but unlike other languages, everyone can speak it! Art knows no boundaries. It is not limited to a certain race, culture, age, gender, belief system, social class, economic class, or really, anything. All people create so when it comes to exploring art, there’s a wide variety to choose from. Art can be used to learn about other cultures, other religious groups, other societies, and other walks of life which helps introduce students to people who are different than them, find commonalities between groups of people, understand key differences, and celebrate diversity. When students understand those around them, they are much more equipped to appropriately love people as Jesus would.
5) The Gift of Processing Visual Culture
The ability to process visual culture is perhaps the most urgent gift that the arts give our students today. In a culture that is swamped with advertisements, television, smart technology, social media, and more, it is of extreme importance that students understand how to process the visual world in a healthy way. A cutting-edge art program teaches students how colors, shapes, lines, body language, facial expressions, and more impact people emotionally and mentally so that students don’t find themselves overcome by a culture of often-careless visual manipulation.
6) The Gift of Understanding Creative Influence
The arts are powerful. I often say that artists rule the world which may sound ridiculous, but if you think about it, it’s the problem-solvers, the creative-thinkers, and those who think outside the box that tend to influence an overwhelming majority of people. Even strictly within the visual arts, it is important to understand the ways visual content can be used to influence. This knowledge moves students from being powerless recipients of visual culture to being effective, responsible, creative ambassadors of Christ.
7) The Gift of Literacy Enrichment
You may have heard this one before, but in case you haven’t, research shows that the arts help student performance on reading exams! This may be due to heightened encouragement, motivation, focus-levels, or even brain stimulation of students who are not yet fluent readers. You can read more about the links between art and literacy here and here.
8) The Gift of Academic Achievement and Motivation to Learn
This wonderful, beautiful part about art education rings true throughout many studies, school districts, and states. Here are just a few findings:
9) The Gift of Safe Self-Expression
In a world with lots of options for managing emotions, the arts offer a safe solution to confronting emotional challenges, celebrating emotional victories, and expressing one’s self in the normal day-to-day. This type of expression is one that many students can enjoy, although it may be most beneficial for students that have a hard time communicating verbally or sharing their thoughts/feelings.
10) The Gift of Communication Skills
Not only does an effective art program offer the tools and knowledge students need to communicate visually, but through critique, art exploration, and presentation, students practice effective verbal communication when sharing their artwork, giving constructive criticism and praise to their peers, asking meaningful questions, and justifying the choices they’ve made in their creative process. The sheer amount of communication experience gained through the arts helps students to clearly represent themselves and their ideas no matter the context.
Phew! That’s a lot for a student to receive right there, and it’s all from something as elementary as a well-formed art class! If you are a homeschooling parent or a member of a school without an art curriculum that challenges your students in these areas, check out our new online art curriculum at ArtClasses.TheMasterpieceMakers.com or send us an email at TheMasterpieceMakers@gmail.com. Our curriculum is designed to help you excellently instill these skill sets and values within your students with fun, relevant projects that connect students to the real world. We would love to speak with you about your unique circumstances and are happy to help you in your journey of giving your students an excellent art education.
PS. If these top ten gifts weren’t enough weren’t enough for you, then check out this amazing article produced in 2011 by the (U.S.) President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Here you’ll find SO many other benefits that your student can receive from an excellent art education experience: