Let's Jump Back to Graduate School

Hi there!

Welcome back to my art education blog. I hope you enjoyed the first blog post and the blind contour activity. If you missed the first post, you can find it here. Ok, let’s jump into today’s topic…Why is Art Education So Important?

Have you ever wondered….

What is the big deal about art education?

Why are some people fighting for it to be in schools, while others want to focus on other subjects?

Can art education really make an impact on a student’s life?

I’m at my favorite coffee shop right now, smiling as I write this to you, and people are probably wondering....why is she smiling at her computer screen? I have had the privilege of seeing first hand the impact art education can have on infants to adults. I want to share my perspective but I also want to give you some hard facts from studies that have been conducted over the years. So, I decided to channel my graduate student self and dig back into research.

Art has existed since the first humans had the opportunity to pick up a hand-made tool and depict a piece of their world. The first signature was a handprint. That’s powerful, right? The very first human artist had the confidence to claim their art. They didn’t claim it with a little mark or symbol for their name. Instead, they placed their handprint on it. As if to say...I made this and I’m proud of it! We are designed to create and to be attracted to creation. If this is an innate part of human nature, shouldn’t it be something we teach and help upcoming generations tap into? Not everyone is created to be a talented rising artist, but we are ALL created with creativity within us.

The beautiful thing about creativity is that it is not restricted to making art. Creativity flows into all aspects of our life. It develops authors who write books we can’t put down, technology inventors who create the device you are using to read this blog, doctors who find cures to diseases, and lawyers who find a way to solve a problem and stand up for justice. Should I go on?

This is why I’m passionate about art education. The arts are not restricted to paint, paper, clay, pencils, and other tools. The most valuable thing about art education is the impact on the mind and the human soul that is thirsting for a way to express innate creativity.

So, let’s go back to graduate school. I promise I’m not going to bore you and write a research paper. Those 70 pages were turned in years ago. But, I do want to provide some evidence about the importance of art education.

Brookings University conducted a study in the Houston area that looked at the impact art education had on students. Here are some of the things they discovered:

1. Students experienced a 3.6 percent point reduction in disciplinary infractions

2. An improvement of 13% (of a standard deviation) in standardized writing scores

3. An increase of 8% (of a standard deviation) in their compassion for others

4. Students were more interested in how other people felt

5. School engagement increased

6. College aspirations increased

7. More students enjoyed school work overall

Who could honestly say that they didn’t desire those things for all students?

“There are strong reasons to suspect that engagement in arts education can improve school climate, empower students with a sense of purpose and ownership, and enhance mutual respect for their teachers and peers….Because schools play a pivotal role in cultivating the next generation of citizens and leaders, it is imperative that we reflect on the fundamental purpose of a well-rounded education.” (Kisida, Brian and Daniel H. Bowen. "New Evidence of the Benefits of Arts Education." Brookings, Accessed 21 February 2020.)

I don’t know about you, but when I read that, I was shouting “Yes!” in my head. Our students are in extreme need of the character qualities that art education has been shown to develop. After years of teaching and years of working alongside my husband, who is a youth pastor, I have seen how desperate students are to gain the perspective that art education can give them.

So, what does this mean for you at home? I promised I wasn’t writing a research paper so here is your application. Ask yourself: does my child have adequate art education at their school? If so, great! But, you can still enhance that at home and this blog is a great place to start. If not, you can provide what they need at home and if you feel led to, advocate for art education in your child’s school.

Bringing art education into your home does not require a weekly art project. It is a way of thinking and seeing the world. Find ways to get creative with your kids/teenagers. One of my absolute favorite things that I see students develop is their creative problem solving skills.

Children/teenagers need a safe avenue to investigate the different ways to solve the problems in front of them. Involvement in the arts opens their minds and helps to produce critical thinking and creative problem solving skills.

Let’s work together to develop a generation that sees a problem and doesn’t shy away from the fear of failing. Instead, they approach it with 10 creative ways to solve the problem and are excited about discovering which one might work!

See you next time!


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