-Contributed by Susan Murray-
By Upping the Education of Art We Can Upgrade a Childs Life
Throughout a child’s education they are often pushed toward the mainstream subjects such as Mathematics, English Literature and the Sciences. Achieving good grades in these subjects is seen as a key component for a child being able to develop any sort of future, both academically and in later life. Alongside these cornerstone subject schools and colleges appear to have an agenda to push sporting activities. There is nothing wrong with educating the minds of children with these key subjects or improving their physical health through sport but one subject is being overlooked – Art. Art is a frequently discounted subject and is seen more as a niche subject in American schools and colleges rather than being regarded as crucial to a child’s development. This is true overseas too as for instance in the United Kingdom, since 2003, there has been a significant decline of 28% in the number of students taking art at GCSE level. This number is far too high and shows the decline of art as a highly deemed subject. This article will investigate how the segregation of art, for subjects deemed ‘more important’, is not only damaging for the future of the subject as a whole but also could be detrimental to the well-being of some children.
The Lack of Creativity
Art promotion in school appears to be subjugated at the moment. Children are being veered in the direction teachers deem more appropriate for them rather than letting the children pick for themselves. At a young age children are encouraged to indulge in their creative sides but as we mature the use of our imagination is almost stifled in order to make room for facts and figures. Several years of children have passed through schools and their creative talents have not been utilised to the full potential.
The key change that needs to be introduced is to up the amount of children being educated about art. The main way to do is for a child to begin consuming less and creating more. What is meant by this is that whilst there is clearly an importance for a child to study and revise math, science, history, etc. all they are really doing in these lessons is consuming facts and figures. There are no creative outlets for a child to express their true feelings and emotions. Instead they are fed chunks of information and then assessed on their ability to parrot it back. There is no denying that this is a part of the education system everyone must go through but why not encourage students to engage the creative side of their brain as well? By allowing a child an artistic outlet this would feed the creative side of their brain and, perhaps, even help open their minds to new ways of looking at the evidence in other classes in order to create new, insightful ideas.
The Meaning in the Painting
A child can not only create new ideas through art but also they can find meaning in existing pieces. Growing up a lot of children struggle with many different aspects of their life and they find it difficult to find something to identify with. That is where educating a child about art and artists can help. There have been recent developments in a method known as Art Therapy. A book developed by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong titled Art as Therapy birthed the idea. The method involves a child finding an artist and a piece of his or her work and then identifying within a piece examples of the many difficulties they may be suffering from. This can range from anxiety, problems within the self to more varying topics that are more person specific such as issues at work or issues with loneliness. The way of identifying yourself and your worries in art should be encouraged in a child’s education. The reason for this is that often children can feel alone with their problems, as if they are the only one experiencing it and this can be quite isolating. If, however, a child were to see their problems and worries expressed in art then they can being to identify with the artist who appears to have gone through similar struggles. A child can then develop a deeper understanding of their worries through the piece and would, perhaps, feel more confident confiding in someone else as they wouldn’t feel as if their worries were ‘abnormal’.
Using Art as a Tool for Healing
Art is not only a good way of identifying worries and problems but is also a meaningful way to help heal them. The visual art activities carried out by patients suffering from a variety of disorders have been noted by researchers publishing The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health as filling occupational voids, decreasing negative emotions, reducing stress and distress plus increasing the patients expression and their identification of grief and worry.
One area of growing concerns amongst parents is that their child may be suffering from an eating disorder. Some shocking recent statistics are that children as young as 10 in Connecticut were struggling with disorders such as bulimia and out of 3500 girls studied one if five ninth graders and two in five high school seniors admitted to forcing themselves to vomit at least once. There are clear ways in which disorders like this need to be treated (such as rehabs or through medical guidance) but some evidence suggests that encouraging children to express themselves through art may benefit their mental health. Hidden feelings can be expressed on the page and this can help regulate emotions concerning body image and self esteem. No matter how talented the artist by helping them create pieces expressing their emotions they can see that nothing is stereotypically ‘perfect’. This can help them identify themselves in their art work and help them on the path to realizing that beauty is not restricted to set definitions but is rather in the eye of the beholder.
There is a degree of neglect at the moment not only in regards to art as a subject but also to the benefits that is provides. It is important to up the education of this subject and promote it throughout a child’s education. Not only because, as a subject, art provides the world with wondrous examples of creativity for us all to enjoy but also because it gives children an outlet. A channel through which they can direct their emotions and worries in order to confront and solve them, helping them build a better and brighter future.