The Importance of Art Education
Advocacy for art education is an important facet of a successful art program. Beginning art educators need to be aware of their role in promoting and educating others of the role art plays throughout world cultures. The following presentations were prepared as part of the requirements for ART325.
10 Lessons the Arts Teach by Eliot Eisner
1. The arts teach children 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 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 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 that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children 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.
SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.
Marvin Bartel, a retired professor from Goshen College, Indiana has listed his reasons for having art in the schools and sources for his assertions:
- A reason for art is to tell stories, events, myths, beliefs, and literature.
- A reason for art is to convince, inform, inspire, criticize, persuade, make the world a better place (Guernica by Picasso – Faith Ringgold).
- A reason for art is to perform rituals, work magic, pray for protection, pray of success, for fertility, for cures for sickness, for prosperity, etc. (tribal fetish art – modern advertising).
- A reason for art is to enhance a religious ceremony (stained glass in Gothic church – tile of Mosque).
- A reason for art is to help in meditation as in the contemplation of nature.
- A reason for art is to create personal and group identity, inspire, school, cultural, and/or national identity, loyalty, and spirit (flags, mascots, logos).
- A reason for art is to tell how people used to look and behave.
- A reason for art is to tell us how places and things used to look.
- A reason for art is to tell us how an artist feels about the subject of artwork (DeKooning – Wyeth).
- A reason for art is to tell us the ways artists have found to express their creativity, and ways to interpret and represent what they have seen, imagined, remembered and felt (Bearden).
- A reason for art is to a way to interpret our own emotions and understand ourselves better (Pollack – Frankenthaler).
- A reason for art is to express and see dreams and fantasies (Mary Frank – Dali).
- A reason for art is to reveal pure visual pleasure from the impact of color, shape, line, and other elements.
- A reason for art is to design and create the tools, utensils, and other functional objects needed.
- A reason for art is to embellish, decorate, and enrich objects and our surroundings.
- A reason for art is to symbolize or substitute for a real idea or object.
- A reason for art is memorialize or pay tribute to a person, persons, or event (Maya Lin).
- A reason for art is provide therapy that helps the creator and/or the viewer better understand a problem and solution.
- A reason for art is to help us pre visualize ideas for buildings, bridges, cities, and everything else that is imagined before it is made (Frank Gehry – Frank Lloyd Wright).
- A reason for art is to add humor to our lives (James Melchert).
- A reason for art is to create gifts that show love and other feelings to our friends and family (flowers and cards are commonly used this way).
- A reason for art is to do pure visual research into the effects of color, line, and other elements as well as materials and processes (Joseph Albers).
Often times administrators, non-arts educator and parents want “hard evidence” that demonstrates the importance of exposing students to art. Consider:
* 1.25 million Americans work in the visual arts.
* One in 111 jobs is in art and design.
* The economic impact of art and design exceeds that of sports worldwide.
* The creative industries are an estimated $30 billion export annually.
* Jobs in design have increased 43% in the past ten years.
* Yearly sales of art reach an estimated $10 billion in the United States alone.
* There are over 532,000 designers working in the U.S.
* More people are employed in the visual arts than in all of the performing arts and sports industries combined.
* 200,000 people are employed in the film industry.
* People spend approximately $55 billion annually on video games.
* The computer animation industry generates $33 billion annually.
* Jobs and employment in many creative industries are growing faster than the labor force as a whole and make up 30% of the work force by some estimates.
* America’s nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity every year.
* By 2016, jobs for artists and designers are predicted to increase by 42%.
* Arts-related businesses in the country’s largest cities represent 4.3% of all businesses and 2.2% of all jobs in the United States.
* There are 3 million people working for over 600,000 arts-centric businesses in the United States.
* Employment growth by arts-centric businesses since 2007 was 12%, more than four times the rise in the total number of U.S. employees.
* Designers are the single largest group of artists, followed by performing artists such as actors, dancers, musicians, and announcers.
* Employment of interior designers is expected to grow 19% from 2006 to 2016.
* Median salaries of: Creative Directors–$90,000, Art Directors–$86,505, Fine Artists–$48,870, Multi-media Artists and Animators–$61,555, Graphic Designers–$46,925, Set and Exhibit Designers–$49,330, Producers and Directors–$86,790, Broadcast Technicians–$40,270, Photographers–$36,090, and Film and Video Editors–$66,715.
* Wage and salary employment in the motion picture and video industries is projected to grow 11% by 2016.
* Animators, film and video editors, and others skilled in digital filming and computer-generated imaging have the best job prospects in future of the motion picture and video industries.
* There are about 94,000 computer artists and animators working in the United States.
* Jobs for photographers have increased 38% in the past four years.
Sources: Americans for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor