May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

~ Neil Gaiman

One of life’s most delicious experiences is engaging in art with elementary school children. At this age their hearts and minds are open and enchanted. Enthusiasm is cool and sarcasm is limited.

Why did we decide that institutionalized teaching is more important than freedom of expression? Budget reasons? Easier to control students? Why is art such a small part of a school’s curriculum? What ever happened to crafts? Why don’t kids learn about artist’s lives?  Are they too salacious or unorthodox?

Why Art Is Just As Important As Math and Reading:

1. There is no wrong in art. No good. No bad. Just art. Kids learn to create for pleasure not praise or approval.

2.Art creates something on the outside that comes from the inside. It teaches the ability to turn inward for guidance. This will come in handy during decision-making and difficult times. How many adults can do this?

3. Art is about the experience not the results. There is nothing more satisfying than being in a state of flow, losing track of time, being.

4. Artists are brave and do their own thing.  They exemplify courage in their stance against the status quo. They are role models for independent thinking.

5. Artists embody passion. Renoir tied paintbrushes to his wrists and painted vibrant lively paintings when arthritis crippled his hands and body. He could not stop creating. 

6.  Artists often struggle financially but do it anyway. Money is not a primary motivator, a compulsion to create is.

7. Art grants space to use imagination, to think differently. Innovation is a survival skill.

8. Artists practice and practice.  Art teaches persistence and perseverance. Author Steven Pressfield says the more you practice your craft the more spiritual it becomes. The work is sustaining.

9. Art teaches that school isn’t the end all be all. There is more to education than a classroom, curriculum and text books. Creativity can strike anywhere.

10. Art in education shows that being an artist is a viable vocation. Art moves people and that is priceless. How’s that for a success story?

11. Art is hands on. Instantly applicable. You don’t have to absorb it now and regurgitate it later.  Get messy, feel it, now.

12. Art gives different kids a chance to shine.  A creative soul is just as intelligent as a math whiz.  Both are valuable contributors to the world.

13. No homework. Kids can go home and play!! Learn how to thrive in an unstructured environment.

14. No two pieces of art are exactly alike. Different is good and absolutely acceptable.

15. Art has no boundaries. There is freedom to create what you dream regardless of race, sex, religion, IQ or socioeconomic status.

How have the colors of art affected your life?  Would more art in schools better prepare children for the real world? 

 Related Material:

Schools Kill Creativity? – elephant journal

Soul Painting: Beyond Artistic Talent – space2live

What If Schools Put Character Building First and Standardized Tests Second? (space2live)

The Power of Poetry: Helping Us Heal, Feel and Transition (space2live)