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The Impact of the Arts on Learning

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,872 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,715 Views

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INSERVICE PAPER: "The Impact of the Arts on Learning"

Despite the many shifts art education has had and the changes made toward strengthening its place as part of public education, the issue of what impact the arts have on learning is still prevalent and being debated today. This paper addresses art and its place in academics, art as the education of the whole person, and art as unique and culturally significant subject matter. There is substantial evidence that overwhelmingly shows the importance of the arts and why we must include them in the education of all students.

I. Art's Place in the Pedagogical World

Art is a field unlike any other, which may be a reason for its lack of acceptance as a school subject in some places. Its complexity arises in the debate about where, how, and, for some, if the arts fit into the pedagogical world, a world of moral decisions about what learning is of most worth to students.

As a culture, we have regarded art as something you do with your hands, not with your head. Most people do not associate the arts with thinking. We are aware of the art "product," but we are unaware of the process that creates the product (Oddleifson 1). In addition, art has been considered a product of emotion rather than mind, and therefore, we have believed it to be unteachable. As success is now defined in our schools, the arts are perceived as a subject with limited short-term instrumental utility; they possess a very low status among the "academic" subjects we teach. Talented individuals are those who play a musical instrument well, paint a good picture, or perform well on the athletic field. Intellect is regarded as something that is best cultivated through subjects like mathe-matics and science and through the use of language. Since the school's first obligation is to cultivate intellect, and since the arts are believed to deal with emotions, the arts, in this view, are ornamental in education.

Another common misperception about art is the belief that the ability to create requires talent that only a few possess. Those who hold these views of mind, intellect, and intelligence fail to understand that the creation of powerful and sensitive images is a matter of mind that requires inventive problems-solving capacities, analytic and synthetic forms of thinking, and the exercise of judgment.

Education as a process is aimed at converting potentiality to actuality (Eisner 15). All of us, to some degree, are capable of learning something in any area, not necessarily to the same extent as others, but to some extent. Intelligence comes in many forms and is expressed in different ways both within and between cultures; intelligence, so to speak, is a developable commodity.

The narrow view of intelligence that has impacted our schools limits our appreciation


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