It was a cool summer morning. A hummingbird buzzed near our screen window sipping the sweet sugar mixture only to float away at the sound of my sketch book turning a page. I picked my pencil back up and bumping elbows with Pop-pop tried to draw the hummingbird from memory. I looked forward to this moment every summer. We would sit on the screened-in porch watching the birds fly near us and draw. He would sometimes draw characters out of the funnies and teach me tricks to make it look “more real”. Each year he would save the art I gave him in a folder and bring it back out to show me how I’ve grown and how much he treasured my artwork. It was a special moment. The fresh crisp Pennsylvania air coupled with my favorite person and drawing pad gave me many wonderful summer memories, and an excitement about art.
Art for many students is filled with these special moments. It’s that “aha!” moment as they discover how to “make” a new color, or the joy of sharing a special story they remembered while drawing their portrait. In art class bonds are made with new friends, their imaginations are let loose, restrictions are lifted, and ideas are flowing freely. Worlds can exist in their projects that normally only existed in their minds eye. In art they can do anything; limits are lifted and elbows are bumped. Worlds collide!
These special moments in class help foster their love and passion for art as it helped me, but the children are also experiencing deep critical thinking and inventive, or creative, learning opportunities. The Visual Arts fosters creative and metaphorical thinking, the ability to communicate about visual qualities, and a way to make sense of the world. It is an intellectually demanding subject matter. Art ties into every school discipline and prepares them for their future. It is reflective, emotional, and expressive.
Art pushes the boundaries of the imagination; it dives deep into creative and critical thinking, allowing students important learning opportunities, pushing their cognitive development and understanding of qualitative relationships. As I have grown with teaching, I have understood more and more how as an art teacher I am helping students better prepare for the future. The arts programs really are important in cultivating the mind of the successful well rounded person of the future. It helps develop synthesizing skills, develop ethics, respect for other cultures, and the creative spark they need to be something special. They joy of art is that not only do our students discover the fun involved in making art and become passionate people, but also that they are building the skills they need to be successful in this world.
* ArtsyLori; Elementary Art Educator