The Power of Art in the Classroom
Benefits of Learning a Art for Students
Art has many benefits for young students, and its instruction in the classroom will help children grow in their education in a variety of ways.
Art is a powerful way to teach growth mindset. Timothy Bogatz, from Art of Ed, says this:
“Learning to draw (or sculpt, or paint, or throw on the wheel) is about practice. And more practice. And more practice. The more you work, the better you become. If you can get your kids into the growth mindset, you can get them to realize that work equals success. All it takes to get kids into that growth mindset and achieving their potential is a few simple strategies.”
These strategies include understanding that art is not a fixed skill: anyone can create art, as long as they are willing to work at it. Art students who continue to practice and learn new skills will be able to visually see their work improve. This helps children to understand that they can do the same to improve in math, science or reading. Art can become a source of fulfillment when students struggle and are able to improve.
Learning to Accept Feedback
Art often needs to be worked and reworked. This is true of many creative processes, like writing and music as well as art. To truly develop as an artist, students need to learn to revise their work. Sometimes this will come from changes that they see need to be made. At other times, teachers or other students will give feedback. Learning to respond to this feedback in a constructive way will help students in the art room and beyond.
At times, responding to feedback will mean changing the work or the vision for a project. At other times, it may mean not making changes despite criticism. Knowing when to listen and when to stay true to your inner vision is a sign of a true artist. This knowledge will develop over time as art students are given a chance to express themselves through their work, and to learn from the feedback of others around them.
Art is especially beneficial as a way to express feelings and emotions that might be hard to express through words alone. When art students are given open-ended projects this creative expression can really develop. The key to art projects that really allow students this creative process, says Timothy Bogatz, give them “choice and voice.” He says that “we need to … find open ended ideas where kids can give their voice and we give them choices on how to express that. Some teachers run a very open art room, where kids are making all the decisions [but that is not the only way to allow creative expression.] As long as there is some opportunity for choice and voice, kids will be successful.”
As a teacher, we can allow opportunities for expression through encouraging students to use different mediums, create their own project, or do things in their own way. This will allow their inner voice to come out in their work.
Enhances Brain Development
What is happening in the mind when children create art? David A. Sousa says:
“During the brain's early years, neural connections are being made at a rapid rate. Much of what young children do as play — singing, drawing, dancing — are natural forms of art. These activities engage all the senses and wire the brain for successful learning.
When children enter school, these art activities need to be continued and enhanced. Brain areas are developed as the child learns songs and rhymes and creates drawings and finger paintings. The dancing and movements during play develop gross motor skills, and the sum of these activities enhances emotional well-being. And sharing their artwork enhances social skills.
The arts are not just expressive and affective, they are deeply cognitive. They develop essential thinking tools — pattern recognition and development; mental representations of what is observed or imagined; symbolic, allegorical and metaphorical representations; careful observation of the world; and abstraction from complexity.”
Art is a powerful tool to develop cognitive skills in children. This brain development will help children excel in their schooling.
Helps with Other Subjects
Since art enhances cognitive function, it is no surprise that learning art skills can help children in other subjects as well.
Andrea Mulder-Slater, from kinderart.com says that: “Participating in art activities helps children to gain the tools necessary for understanding human experience, adapting to and respecting others’ ways of working and thinking, developing creative problem-solving skills, and communicating thoughts and ideas in a variety of ways.” These skills are necessary for the more academic subjects, such as math and science. She also says, “Art nurtures inventiveness as it engages children in a process that aids in the development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and self-motivation.” Problem solving and inventiveness in particular will improve test scores and more measurable numbers in schools. There are many subjects that art will improve that are harder to measure, nevertheless can be seen as students study art.
Art brings a fullness and richness to the student experience. It expands education and will help with metrics like schoolwork and classroom behavior, as well as areas that are beyond the scope of any test.