“A broad education in the arts helps give children a better understanding of their world…We need students who are culturally literate as well as math and science literate.” –Paul Ostergard, Vice President, Citicorp
“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life, a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.” – Richard W. Riley, Former US Secretary of Education
“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.” –William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education
The arts have been an enduring expression of diverse cultures, history, societal traditions, and individual values and beliefs. Art is universal, accessible, and a gateway to new experiences. The mere act of studying cultures, artists, art movements, and period artworks allow students to visually travel through history and cultural experiences. In addition, students begin to learn, understand, and respect the contributions made by other cultures.
In the visual arts program here at St. Patrick School, the students will be evolving in the areas of creativity, collaboration, responsibility, productivity, persistence, flexibility, and art making to name just a few. Students will be developing artistic skills and thinking through the study of the elements of art and principles of design, exploring and applying the creative processes of various types of art, and learning about historical artists, styles, and movements. The program also includes integration with core curriculum content. Through the study of art, in conjunction with core curriculum, there is a development of critical thinking, meaningful discussions, new perspectives, respect and understanding for others’ beliefs and traditions, and self-awareness. These are qualities that can be transferred to any content area in education and beyond. By including a variety of concepts from other subjects, it deepens student understanding in a more well-rounded and meaningful way.
This art program creates an environment where students experience their learning personally, through their senses, not just through teacher lectures. Art is all about experimentation and invention, stemming from such things as mixing colors, understanding color theories and attempting to create artworks using new and different mediums. It is a content area that provides a safe environment to explore ideas, techniques, and approaches. This opportunity allows students to learn how to creatively attack a variety of problems, reflect critically on their outcome, show persistence, and work individually or as a group to “solve the problem,” which are skills that will stay with them throughout their life. When students are encouraged, in areas such as art, to try new things or follow an idea, they are more likely to give their best effort, therefore making their accomplishments more successful and sincere.
In my experience, adolescent students are unique in their exuberance towards the visual arts. They are constantly full of ideas, questions, and are fearless in trying new things. Due to this creative freedom in children, art can play a vital role in a student’s education. Studying the arts fosters students’ creativity, embraces students’ individuality, and allows the students to express themselves. Another advantage is art helps develop peer relationships through connecting, communicating, and learning with and from each other. Ultimately, the art classroom is where enthusiasm, curiosity, creativity, community, and exploration are the keys to students’ growth and development in their knowledge, skills, and understanding.