Learn to Draw and Paint

Why Is It Important To Teach Art In Schools?

Earlier this year I had to give a short talk explaining why art education is important. Inspired by Andy J. Pizza invisible things illustration series, I created a series of illustrated cards showing the invisible skills that drawing and painting can help develop.

I think the drawings might be worth sharing to a wider audience too.

When I told my Dad I wanted to study art

When I told my Dad I wanted to study art, he was delighted. He told me I might as well go directly to the Job Centre and skip the ‘study’ bit. Success and art were not words that belonged together.

When I told my Dad I wanted to study art

Of course, I didn’t listen to my Dad and enrolled an art degree. That was me below.

Let me draw - illustration by Sophie Peanut

Why is art education important?

I was 18 and after taking A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, I just decided to study a subject I liked. I thought it was cool to be able to draw too.

Creativity illustration by Sophie Peanut

But why is art education important? Art boosts creativity, and people enjoy looking at artwork. Yet art is much more than pretty pictures in galleries.

Joconde Stalkers in Museum - illustration by Sophie Peanut

Invisible skills developed trough learning art

In insight, I believe art classes do more than teaching students to draw, paint or be creative. Art helps develop a set of invisible skills, some obvious, others less so, that are valuable and transferable ‘life skills’.

Observation

Drawing or painting from life helps you develop observation skills. As you look at and study the world around you suddenly see things you had never noticed before. You develop a new understanding of your environment.

Invisible skills illustration. Observation by Sophie Peanut

Communication

Art teaches also how visual communication works. Students learn how to express opinions and feelings and communicate effectively with images – a key skill in our visual world.

Invisible skills - communication Illustration by Sophie Peanut

Critical thinking

As you analyse and reflect on your own artwork, the work of your peers and/or that of recognised artists, you develop your critical thinking skills. Students become able to observe, analyse, draw conclusions and communicate their ideas and opinions.

Invisible skills - critical thinking Illustration by Sophie Peanut

Improved mental health

Several studies have shown that creative activities such as drawing and painting lead to improved mental health. Making art helps you deal with difficult situations and stress encountered in everyday life. Clinical reviews also show engaging in the visual arts reduces levels of depression and anxiety, increases self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem and stimulates re-engagement with the wider, everyday social world.

Mental Health Illustration by Sophie Peanut (Benefits of art education)

Challenge

Drawing and painting can help children (and adults) challenge themselves in safe environments as they experiment with new materials and try harder tasks. They can set up their own challenges too, taking ownership of their learning.

Challenge - Invisible skills Illustration by Sophie Peanut

Risk

Art classrooms are also safe places for students to practice taking risks, experiment and try new things.

Why is art important in Education - Risk Icon - Illustration by Sophie Peanut

Decision making

When you create artwork you choose colours, style, subject matter, composition and more as you create your artwork. Practicing decision making in a safe environment (the worse outcome might be a bad drawing) can help build a student’s confidence.

Why is it important to teach art in schools? Decision Making icon By Sophie Peanut

Dealing with the unknown

Art is a journey into the unknown. You start with an idea and it develops and evolves as you make the artwork and experiment (some artists explain this process by saying their work ‘just happens’). You need to work with an open mind, not knowing exactly where your journey will take you.

Art in schools can help children deal with the unknown Illustration By Sophie peanut

Dealing with imperfection

Most children find it difficult to deal with imperfection. When they start drawing and stumble upon what they perceive as a mistake, they stop. They want to rub out their drawing, or crunch it up and start again. Yet it is often the ‘mistakes’ or accidents that give artwork quirkiness and character. Often in art, there is no right and wrong. This gives children an opportunity to embrace perceived mistakes and work with them rather than fear and avoid them.

Why is art education important - dealing with imperfection illustration by Sophie Peanut

Art classes improve academic performance

Some American studies have shown that 3 hours a week art classes lead to improved discipline, attendance and higher grades across all subjects. So teaching art, rather than being a waste of time, improves performance across the board.

Art Education Raise achievement in other subjects

Everything in our environment is designed

Our clothes, furniture, the posts we read on social media, adverts, food packaging – everything around us is designed, even the book cover in the illustration below. Please note it’s a real book I stumbled upon in the library, not one that I made up (and no, I am not quite that old).

From film and social media to illustration and graphic design, there are lots of jobs in creative industries. Even if you don’t work in those industries you will need to make presentations, write documents and communicate effectively through visually as well as verbally in most jobs.

Everything is designed - Illustration by Sophie Peanut

Even my Dad changed his mind

Recently I was talking to my Dad about art in schools when he told me ‘Teaching art in schools is really important’. I was wondering if it was a joke when he added ‘Art is good for kids – I read it in the paper’.

Success and are education go together - Illustration by Sophie Peanut

So while very few children will become artists, some will work in creative industries and hopefully, many will keep practicing art as a hobby, a way to relax or make sense of their feelings and the world around them. There’s value in that… and art is good for kids (even my Dad says so!).

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Why is it important to teach art in schools - By Sophie Peanut

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