Art in Education and Life
Art education has gotten a tremendous boost from discoveries in neuroscience. The old paradigm was that left-brain thinking was the home of the necessary 'higher-order' thinking skills, and right-brain activities were frills. That paradigm is dead wrong. Current research tells us that much learning is 'both-brained."... PET scans of problem solvers show activations in not just the left frontal lobes, but other areas used to store music, art and movement (dance and sports). ... The use of art not just to draw but to teach thinking and build emotive expressiveness and memory has been a remarkable demonstration of the brain's plasticity. By learning and practicing art, the human brain actually rewires itself to make more and stronger connections. ... Jean Houston says that arts stimulate body awareness, creativity and a sense of self. In fact, she says, "the child without access to the arts is being systematically cut off from most of the ways in which he can experience the world."
Ten Lessons the Arts Teach
1. The arts teach children (and adults) to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children (and adults) that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children (and adults) that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students (young and old) that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students (young and old) to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children (and adults) learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.