Arts Integration in School provides students with an opportunity to not only explore how mediums and materials work together and with the laws of our world, but is an opportunity that allows students to explore their own identity and who THEY are. Visual Arts (and other arts as well) are a means of visual communication (a skill that can be used across many careers) that teach us how to persevere, how to problem solve, how to think critically, and how to face challenges. All these skills can be learned through the arts, then applied to other academics, and later, a child’s career. Here are my 10 Reasons on why arts integration in schools is important (and yes, you can show this to your district or principal if you need arguments on why they shouldn’t cut it out of your student’s lives!).
- Creative Thinking: is the ability to create or invent something new, whether it is a concept, a solution to a problem, an artwork, sculpture, Lego structure, STEM project design… anything! Creative thinking is a skill that is needed not only by designers and artists, but by mathematicians, scientists, engineers, explorers, or literally any career that you can think of. Creative thinking is based on looking at things from a fresh perspective. It is the ability to create something new. It is a skill that can be learned early in a child’s life through the arts, then will help them transcend through their other academics and career throughout the rest of their lives.
- Critical Thinking: learning Visual Arts helps develop Critical Thinking skills, especially when discussing, analyzing, creating, and critiquing artworks. Critical Thinking is the disciplined process of analyzing and evaluation information to make informed judgments or decisions. Critical thinking means that you can identify flaws in your own reasoning to help you avoid biases when making a decision. Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills and improves comprehension abilities. Critical Thinking is a skill that is important as both a life skill, but as a skill necessary for other academics and the child’s future career in any field.
- Problem-solving: The arts teach children how to approach unexpected problems. Problem-solving is the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex problems. Employers want to hire creative thinkers for both their creativity AND because they can use this power to solve problems in innovative ways. Problem-solving is an essential skill in all academic fields and can be learned early on through creating art or exploring the arts.
- Identity: Creating art allows students to reflect on who they are, what they like, and understand their own identity. Identity is who you are. It is the characteristics that determines who you are and how you differ from others. Identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, culture, and expressions that make up a person. All of this can be explored and understood through creating art. When we create art, we are creating a reflection of ourselves and our imaginations. When we have a better understanding of WHO we are, both INSIDE and out, we have a better grounding of ourselves with ourselves and the world. Understanding our identity helps us understand our history and culture, and helps us communicate it through art to others. Understanding our identity also is beneficial for our mental and spiritual (religious & not) health.
- Fine Motor Skills: Visual Arts helps improve motor skills. The acts of drawing, cutting, sewing, coloring, painting, beading, and tracing are all activities that help promote fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are those that involve a refined use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers, and thumb. With these skills, a child can do tasks such as writing, buttoning, and zippering.
- Challenges: Creating art can present a lot of challenges. First, there are the challenges of actually creating a composition or work of art. Second, there are the laws of the world that come into play such as mediums and materials working together, or if you are creating a sculpture, gravity. Sometimes art mediums and materials do things that are unexpected that you have no control over. Ask anyone who is a potter or ceramicist; sometimes clay has a mind of its own and does its own thing! It is the artist’s job to face the challenge and overcome it. The arts allow us to explore and face challenges both visually and spatially and help us have a better understanding of the world and how to solve problems. Being able to face challenges is a skill that can be used in any academic field.
- Visual Communication: creating art teaches us how to communicate visually. When you look at a painting, you are understanding a message or story. If you look long enough, you get the same feeling as though you are reading a book; completely immersed and connected. Some people cry before an artwork and that is because they’re receiving the message or story the artist has put before them. A skill of an artist is to communicate visually to their audience; to convey a message or an idea. To capture their attention and to hold it. To ask them to enter their artwork then wander through it. This is a huge skill set; those in graphic design, marketing, and advertising KNOW how to use this skill and NEED it. This skill starts developing in childhood, through creating art.
- Perseverance: Creating art teaches us how to persevere. Perseverance is the “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” (Oxford). It is Growth Mindset at its best! Perseverance determines our ability to be successful, not just in the short term, but in the long term. This is important through our lives and is a quality that can be learned and understood in childhood through creating art. Creating art always presents challenges and never goes the way we expect; we always will be faced with a challenge when creating art and we must learn to persevere.
- Culture: Exploring art and creating art teaches us about culture. When we create art of our own culture, it gives us a better understanding of our culture, who we are, and what we have come from. When we look at art from other cultures, both contemporary and historical, we gain a better understanding of other cultures, where they have come from or the challenges they’ve faced, and where they are now. We can learn about other cultures. We can understand other cultures. All through viewing and creating art.
- Visual Learning: is a style in which “a learner utilizes graphs, charts, maps, and diagrams to learn.” (Wikipedia). We learn through creating and through viewing pictures. A lot of students NEED to create art because they might be a visual learner. Visual Learning “is one of the three basic types of learning styles in the Fleming VAK/VARK model that also includes kinesthetic learning and auditory learning.” (Wikipedia). To meet the needs of all our learners, we MUST teach visual learning. Therefore, art is necessary to allow for a whole body and mind teaching approach.
Arts education is so very important to me. If anyone ever argues with you or gives you a hard time about teaching art, or if your district or administrator ever wants to cut funding for the arts or art teaching jobs… Please feel free to send them my blog post. They are not doing their job: caring about the well-being of children.