Vital to the physical, mental and emotional growth of our youth, the importance of visual arts in education is unfortunately overlooked by those in power. To learn more about the huge impact art education has on children’s growth and development, as well as how interactive displays can be used in the education of visual arts, keep reading.
What is visual arts?
Originally visual art was defined only as the fine arts, which includes painting, drawing, and sculpture. From the early 20th century, applied arts and crafts have also been included in the definition of visual arts. Contemporary art also falls under the Visual Arts umbrella, including happenings, performance art, and installation art.
Why is visual arts an important aspect of school education?
Arts education can increase students’ ability to think creatively and critically, which can improve their performance across all other academic areas. Arts classes are one of the few school classes that allow independent thought and creative freedom, which in turn can develop the student’s critical thinking skills and confidence in their abilities.
Research shows that drawing, for example, has strong ties to the parts of the brain responsible for memory and writing, and the inclusion of drawing in education improves academic achievement across all subjects.
Encouraging creative thinking in students can increase their propensity to come up with novel ideas in other areas of study and will assist them with problem-solving when facing various challenges.
Studies show that there are key links between arts education and a child’s learning abilities. Children who are exposed to art education can process information more thoroughly, consider problems and ideas with more in-depth thought, and explain their solutions more clearly.
History of visual arts tuition in the UK
The importance of visual arts has been recognised for millennia. However, visual arts tuition was only first introduced in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. It was partly motivated by England’s desire to produce the same design quality as France, and Prince Albert was a big advocate for the formation of Art Schools in the UK.
Currently, arts education is part of the United Kingdom’s National Curriculum. Still, the importance of visual arts education has been brought into question in recent years, and its continued inclusion has been under threat.
What are the threats to arts education in the UK?
The link between arts education and learning skills can often be overlooked, even though studies have found that art education can benefit those studying science and vice versa.
Jobs involving visual arts qualifications are often less lucrative than those that involve STEM-related education. However, the majority of modern communication happens visually on digital platforms, and artists are key proponents of the system.
What value does visual art bring to modern society?
Despite being viewed as soft and as a lowly career choice, visual arts is consumed by all people on a daily basis. The character on your cereal box, the videos you consume on your mobile, even the bank’s logo on your monthly statement sent in the mail – all of these form part of the visual arts and would not be available if people did not pursue education in the visual arts.
Art education is a vital part of today’s society and results in the ability of students to bring about joy in an otherwise stressful and sometimes depressing world. Your child’s favourite animated film couldn’t have been made without visual arts specialists, and neither could the magazine you read on the tube or most of the content consumed online.
The visual arts provide an essential outlet for creativity and emotions, make it possible for human history to be visually recorded, and create a space in which ideas can be expressed in ways other than words and writing.
With all this in mind, it is very easy to see the importance of visual arts in education and why becoming a professional artist is actually a noble pursuit.
The benefits of visual arts education for children
Other than providing a fantastic creative outlet for children, art education greatly impacts various aspects of childhood development. To understand the importance of visual arts in education, just look at the benefits listed below:
Motor skills development
Fine motor skills get a lot of practice when kids explore their artistic skills. Grabbing pens and pencils and holding a paintbrush – these actions all contribute to refining their fine motor skills. While art education is common in early learning centres, its great impact on how quickly and successfully children develop their skills is not widely appreciated.
Improvement of social skills
Participation in the creation of visual arts can lead to improved development of social skills in children and youths. The increased interaction through helping and sharing assists children in learning how to empathise with others and have positive interactions with peers.
Visual arts activities can also foster social interaction, as children will discuss what they’re creating with their peers or ask for assistance from their teachers.
Improved decision-making ability
Unlike subjects such as maths and science, art education doesn’t (for the most part) provide a set of rules that must be followed to get a certain result. This means that children have a lot of freedom to make decisions regarding their work, which results in improved decision-making skills and increased confidence.
In the early stages, children will be able to choose what colours they want to use and what they want their artwork to look like. As they get older, they will be able to make bigger decisions – what medium to use, what size of paper to draw on, and eventually, they’ll be choosing what to create as well.
Development of critical and logical thinking skills
Arts education provides many opportunities for the development of critical thinking skills. When learning about the arts, children are encouraged to critique artworks and decide what art style they like and what they don’t like.
Teachers will require the children to explain why it is that they don’t like the artwork or what they think the artists were trying to portray when creating particular works. This encourages the scholar to think for themselves and teaches them how to evaluate works, which in turn will teach them to think critically about other aspects of life in the future.
The creative process also teaches logical thinking skills, as one needs to be aware of how much space you’ll need to render your chosen work, what colours will mix well together, how much time will be needed for the creation of the artwork, and whether or not the chosen work fits the brief given by the teacher.
Attending an art class can bolster a child’s confidence as they improve their skills and learn more about their artistic abilities. Through art education, they will learn about various established artists and how they pursued their passion.
Students will also develop coping strategies for dealing with criticism, which will result in confidence in the working world later in life. Art education can result in better focus, which in turn will increase the students learning abilities, resulting in improved confidence in the classroom across all subjects.
Through the freedom that art education fosters, students can learn various self-determination skills, such as:
- Self-advocacy – they’ll need to justify the story of their art and also be sure of themselves when requesting new mediums or extended deadlines
- Creativity – students need to come up with a unique idea for their art
- Self-awareness – they need to be aware of what they can and can’t achieve, as well as their artistic strengths and weaknesses
- Assertiveness – once they’ve decided what they want to do, they may need to stand up for their decision and explain what impacted their choice
The intersection of visual arts and information and communication technology in education
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become unavoidable in the classroom. ICT plays a huge role in today’s society, so its inclusion in school education makes sense. Computers, tablets and interactive displays in the classroom all play a role in modern education, especially with the rise of virtual classrooms.
It must be acknowledged that in the digital age, most members of society require some art and design skills to communicate and express themselves online effectively. By incorporating ICTs into art education, you will equip today’s students with the skills required to thrive in today’s digital world.
Smart Displays are a great way to do this, as they allow the students to interact with the work and give an accurate visual representation of what can be done in the world of digital art and media. These interactive displays allow teachers to educate the class about digital painting and other forms of digital design.
The education system should also acknowledge the importance of including visual arts across all fields of study. The prevalence of ICTs in modern life is resulting in the need for all industries to be able to share their information in an aesthetically pleasing and creative way. This cannot be done successfully without an understanding of art and design.
Types of visual arts education
Painting falls into the category of fine arts and is often considered one of the most important art forms. This art form is one of the oldest in the world, with some paintings dating back more than 45000 years. The process involves adding colour to a canvas or wall and using a variety of implements – most often a brush or palette knife.
Drawing & sketching
Traditionally done using pens, pencils, crayons or markers, drawing has been around for thousands of years, with the first drawings appearing on cave walls more than thirty thousand years ago. Since then, the medium has evolved, from artists in the middle ages sketching on parchment to modern-day artists creating digital drawings on their tablets.
Photography is part of contemporary art education and is the process of imprinting an image on paper through light exposure. Modern photography has gone digital, and photo paper has been replaced with a small sensor.
However, most photography courses include film photography education, as it is a good way to master the basics and have a practical understanding of how photography and cameras work.
Sculpture & ceramics
Sculpture is the formation of 3-dimensional art, often using clay, stone, plastic, metal or wood—the earliest sculptures known to man date back 40 000 years. Pottery and ceramics have also been around for millennia. Ceramics can include sculpture but also the creation of various art forms using clay.
Digital art has become an increasingly popular form of art. From drawing and painting to graphic design and 3D design, as well as image manipulation and video game creation, there is a variety of artistic expressions available in the world of digital art.
With the increased prevalence of this particular form of art, it is easier for students to find established artists that they can look up to and find a niche where their creativity can thrive. Digital art can also interact well with tactile art, which provides the opportunity for a richer learning experience.
How to incorporate an interactive display into your visual arts education
An interactive or smart display is a great way to teach your class new digital art techniques. It also makes teaching art history more fun and enjoyable, as you can incorporate accurate imagery, informative videos, and even virtual tours of art galleries into your lessons using the display’s teaching software.
A smart display like the ActivPanel will make it easier for you to share techniques and ideas with your class, and the increased interaction will foster creativity and increase focus.
The Promethean Cares Playlist features a simple idea on how you could incorporate visual arts into your teaching – select video number three to see how you could bring an artist brainstorm into your classroom using the ActivPanel.
There are plenty of other resources at hand that can also inspire your teaching. On Promethean Resource Library and ClassFlow Marketplace you can find thousands of art-related resources that you can use in your classroom.
If your school hasn’t yet purchased an interactive display, we recommend chatting to your school board about having an interactive smart display installed in the classroom. Not only will it create a fun classroom environment, but also assist in teaching any subject. Promethean offers a free live demo of the ActivPanel which is the perfect place to start.