Archive for February, 2021

The Crisis of Fine Arts Education

February 4th, 2021

In these days of budget cuts and limited resources, it’s often the case that fine arts classes are the first to be cut. This is unfortunate, since a well-rounded education must include the arts. Studying the arts, whether in the academic study of art appreciation, or learning how to actually do art, is crucial to teach young people how to think creatively and independently. Some studies have shown that students that participate in a strong art education program demonstrate higher performance in other academic areas. Expert conjecture this is due to the fact that when people do art, they exercise the right hemisphere of the brain, where higher reasoning functioning occurs.

Art education is an area of learning based upon the visual, tangible arts, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and design in jewelry, pottery, weaving, and fabrics. These days, it includes photography, video, film, design, and computer art.

The first art schools were mentioned by Plato in 400 B.C. Art was taught in Europe through the Method system for centuries. Artists, like most guilds, took on apprentices who learned their trade. During the Renaissance, more formal training took place in art studios. Design was emphasized more than the fine arts, so schools of design were founded throughout Europe during the 18th century. In modern times, art education takes place across the generations in community-based institutions and organizations like museums, local arts agencies, recreation centers, places of worship, social service agencies, prisons, and schools.

There are thousands of art education curricular models, or ways to teach art appreciation and how to do art. Some experts insist that drawing is the basis of all Western art education, at least since the Renaissance. Once you teach someone how to draw, they say, you can teach them all other forms of art because drawing is an empirical activity that involves seeing, interpreting, and discovering the appropriate marks to reproduce an observed phenomena.

Many state that an important part of a well-rounded education is at least a basic understanding of art history, including the numerous movements in art throughout the ages. A good understanding of art history, however, includes more than memorizing artists, their works, and when they were created. It involves an understanding of the trends in the art world. Even artists should have a good comprehension of the history of art, if they are to find out how they wish to express themselves to the world.

A good artist needs both an in-depth education in the history and appreciation of art and lots of studio time. Most art schools devote thirty percent of their coursework to academic fields of study, like art appreciation and art history. How can you develop your artistic vision if you don’t know what’s gone before?

It has been said, “We stand on the shoulders of giants.” This is especially true in the art world. You need to be able to answer when someone asks who your influences are. What does it mean to be a post-modern painter, for example? Or an abstract impressionist? Only a well-rounded education in the arts will help you answer those questions, and how they apply to you and your work.

Peter Dranitsin is a self taught and self representing abstract artist.

The Importance of Art Education for Children

February 4th, 2021

Art education for children had all but disappeared from most American schools. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, some well-intentioned (albeit misguided) and others simply unfortunate. Despite the waning exposure kids have to the arts at school, science continues to demonstrate the many benefits of arts-based learning beginning at a young age. If the future of education continues to deprive children of exposure to the arts, it is up to parents and caregivers to advocate for arts education while finding alternative ways to provide it.

The Changing Face of American Education

Several key developments in American education have nearly stripped art-related education out of schools. The most common reason cited is funding. A focus on standards has also been instrumental in reducing educational focus on the arts due to schools competing for high marks on testing. As the economy slowly recovers from the economic turmoil of the last decade, schools in many states have begun to rebound from a funding perspective. However, rather than restore arts programs, states and school districts are placed an emphasis on beefing up STEM programs, rather than art-related learning initiatives.

Types of Art Education and Their Benefits

Creativity and innovation, both traits highly valued by employers, are developed through arts-related learning. Creativity gives rise to critical thinking, engagement and problem-solving. At every stage of a child’s life, from early childhood through college, art-related exposure and learning has been shown to greatly improve physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. In addition to these proven benefits, arts-related education increases confidence in children as well as focus, perseverance and non-verbal communication. Children learn to better handle constructive feedback and to collaborate with others. Finally, the arts improve a child’s dedication, self-discipline and accountability. Each of these skill sets directly influences a child’s academic success as well. The research reflects a strong correlation between arts education and academic achievement.

The Push to Keep Children Balanced

Educational experts provide clear recommendations for an educational approach that incorporates the arts. The research leaves little doubt that kids need arts education as a part of a comprehensive and well-rounded education, and to guarantee their future success in life. Parents, caregivers and other family members can help by advocating for more art education programs in your school district. Meanwhile, experts advise not waiting for school programs to expose your kids to the arts. Dance, music, theater and the visual arts are all of equal importance and kids should be introduced to all four in early childhood.

Private teachers can provide beneficial learning opportunities however the research is clear that kids derive significantly greater benefit from group classes, lessons and programs. If your community has a children’s arts academy, enroll your kids as early as possible. There is no fear of starting them too early and professional arts educators can tailor classes specifically to a particular age group. Students with that level of involvement were four times more likely to participate in a science or math fair, win an award for writing an essay, or be recognized for academic achievement. Parents are always on the lookout for ways to help their children get ahead. Nothing is more influential and fun than arts-related education.