I often ask my students, usually as they’re deep in concentration, creating a unique and original objet d’art, “What’s the most important subject in school?” Their responses, arising from the recesses of their minds as they attempt to fend off my intrusion, vary from utter silence, to the nobly entrenched quips of “Learning to read!”…”Mathematics”…. “Science!”
I usually feel guilty about my interruption into the precious time allocated to the discipline, but am always compelled to offer an alternative answer: “Art”. And as your new Grades 1-5 Art Teacher I’m hereby fulfilling my duty to advocate for the arts, and spread the word that Art plays a unique and authoritative role in the education of our children.
There are a multitude of theories on how learning takes place. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed from extensive cognitive research, identifies seven distinct “intelligences” that exist in all of us, and documents the extent to which all students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learning styles. According to this theory,
“we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.“
In light of cognitive model it is reassuring to know students at AAS are receiving an education that nourishes every facet of their young, sophisticated minds. For the student who may not be blessed with talent in ‘spatial representation’, or whose families haven’t yet included Arts and Crafts on the menu at home, Art Class plays a critical role in completing the development of the entire intellect. And perhaps even more importantly the Art room provides that venue for the artistically gifted student to shine (especially if that student struggles in the other disciplines).
Believing in Art as the pinnacle of human endeavor l strive to develop a program that, yes, is cross-curricular, but also stands alone in its rigor and relevance. Art nourishes and inspires, and cultivates the fertile soil of children’s imagination and creative force. Art is unique. Art is essential. And I daresay, “Art rules!”