Education Matters

The nature of visual arts education

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on May 27, 2019 6:00:00 AM

The nature of visual arts educationWith the ubiquitous nature of technology, it is clear that we live in a visual age. Central to this is a visual arts education. Although the practical skills taught in visual arts aren’t typically measured with tests or exams, these qualities are relevant and applicable in the workforce. As Elliot Eisner, Professor Emeritus of Child Education at Stanford University says, “We want our children to have basic skills. But they will also need sophisticated cognition, and they can learn that through the visual arts.”

Visual arts encompass a variety of techniques that allow your son to express his creativity. There are many different types of visual arts including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, design and printmaking. With emerging technology, video, film, digital design and photography have also gained traction in the artworld and have helped to make art relevant for young people. At Trinity, boys can experience artmaking in drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, graphics, visual design, photography, digital media, film and installation art.

The following benefits of art help to further explain the nature of visual arts education:

1. Aids problem-solving
In their book Studio Thinking, Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner write, “While students in art classes learn techniques specific to art, such as how to draw, mix paint … they’re also taught a remarkable array of mental habits not emphasised elsewhere in schools.”

Visual arts education teaches students to develop the habits of innovation, reflection and problem-solving. These skills are invaluable in school, later in life, and even outside the creative sphere – chemists, architects and engineers regularly utilise the skills acquired from a visual arts education.

Though your son may not necessarily have a preference for the arts, or want to pursue a career in the field, help him to see the benefits of his involvement in the arts and the key skills he will gain from the experience.

2. Encourages critical thinking
Harvard University’s David Perkins describes the practice of looking at art as requiring thoughtful attention to what the artworks have to show and say, as artwork can often connect to a viewer’s personal and social life. He explains that looking at art “provides an excellent setting for better thinking, for the cultivation of what might be called the art of intelligence.”

Visual arts education, therefore, is useful for students to learn because it teaches them to dig deeper and not be content with surface-level understanding. Critical thinking is important because it enhances understanding of the role and significance of different factors, enabling informed decision-making.

As parents, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of your son. Encourage him to find the deeper meaning, significance and relevance of art in his world.

3. Facilitates social interaction
The level of technology available today offers boys the opportunity to create and makes possible new forms of connection and social interaction. By editing a video, taking a photo, or creating a design and then sharing it online, a boy is connected instantly to community where like-minded individuals can connect, comment and collaborate. There are many free software programmes and apps that can further enhance visual arts experiences and enable boys to participate in the arts in a fun and relevant way. Where appropriate, help your son to get started on creating his own pieces of art and sharing his designs online with friends and family.

Through this, boys can learn key communication skills, gain feedback, offer useful suggestions to others, and produce unique works.

The 2016 World Economic Forum report on The Future of Jobs predicted that the top skills required for the future included problem-solving, critical thinking, as well as creativity. Visual arts education is invaluable, as it gives boys future-proof skills that will enable them to flourish.

We believe in the creative potential of all boys and we encourage them to pursue all forms of creative and performing arts, which are showcased at our yearly 10-day Arts Festival. Boys’ works are also displayed in exhibitions at our onsite gallery, the Delmar Gallery, throughout the year.

Trinity Grammar School encourages your son to realise his potential, pursue his passions and discover his purpose all within the context of a supportive Christian environment. We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed.

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Topics: Boys' education, Creative empowerment, Arts, Boys learning, Creative arts