On The Importance of Art Ed by Carrie Fonder
Carrie Fonder, Art Road Art Instructor, Fulbright Scholar and Cranbrook Academy of Art Graduate.
In most contemporary schools, performance seems to be the primary objective. The weary phrase “teaching for the test,” simply refuses to wear out. Children need to meet school/state/national goals- in the form of testing- so the schools can get or retain funding and stay open. Obviously these are necessary goals; without our schools and teachers we’d be nowhere. Yet at the end of the trickle down scenario are the kids, who are left working hard- whatever their ability- to test well.
One of the most important lessons kids learn at school is HOW to learn. The content is really not core. Yes, we need to be able to read, write, and do math, but if you leave school not learning how to learn- well, you’ve missed the boat.
The problem is kids are learning in schools how to learn, but within very specific constraints. Classroom teachers work exceedingly hard to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles and educational needs in the classroom on a daily basis. However, teachers are under pressure to get the kids prepared for the tests. They simply cannot do everything.
So where is the value in arts education? Art helps kids learn how to learn and innovate. As they learn the crafts of cutting and gluing, they learn the arts of creative problem solving and higher order thinking. In art, novel solutions are encouraged and admired; in school-aged math, novel solutions are usually wrong answers.
In the framework and context of the greater world, who will become our next great leaders? Who will be hired as CEO’s? Will it be the person who can get the right answer, or the person who finds new questions to ask? Quite simply, we need to support arts education if we want to be world and market leaders. We need to teach our children how to innovate. Otherwise, they will be taking dictation from the creative geniuses who are revolutionizing our world.