Art with a Capital A

The fall semester at Seven Arrows is always one of the most creative times of the school year. As students dive deeper into their units of cross-curricular Spanish studies, art naturally becomes the guiding force propelling them to make meaningful connections from their learning experiences to the real world.

Each year, our program pushes the art envelope. The ofrendas that students create for the altars that will be installed for our Day of the Dead Festival is a fine example of open ended art. Sure, they are learning to experiment with color and build stamina in concentration and creativity, but the most valuable take-a-way is that the ofrenda is a jumping off point to make significant meaning of their art. The art takes on an emotional quality as it is now a symbol of their personal culture or ancestry. Student discovery is endless and this type of intentional exposure is a powerful catalyst for years of creative thinking to follow.

Art in Action is a non-profit organization that provides visual arts education to over 500 schools and organizations nationwide. Art in Action asserts that there are five critical skills that an arts education provides (below, from their website):

    1. Creativity: In a word full of trained professionals and highly educated workers, creativity is one of the top skills that set someone apart from the pack. Of course, being qualified in your field is important, but having the ability to think imaginatively and bring fresh ideas to the table are essential to innovation and progress. Art education allows students to express themselves and think outside of the box.
    2. Collaboration: Working together for a common purpose teaches children that their contribution is important, which is perfect for the collaborative nature of the arts. By working collaboratively on a project, students learn to communicate more effectively, compromise when necessary, and work hard even if their role may seem small. All of these skills are vital in any work environment where teams come together for a common goal.
    3. Confidence: The arts create a safe space for students to explore their talents and build their confidence. Students who are shy in a normal classroom setting may gain the assurance to stand up and talk about their artwork. The sense of pride gained through a finished product encourages the students to keep trying and striving to accomplish more. With this confidence, they are more likely to take risks and step out of their comfort zone to try new things in other areas of their lives.
    4. Cultural Awareness & Empathy: The arts provide a unique platform to discuss many different cultures, socioeconomic levels, and current events. Through the arts, students have a place not only to learn about different cultures than their own, but also to ask questions and be more informed about the daily struggles and realities of people who may seem different. By learning about other people, children are able to develop their ability for empathy, essential in working with people from all walks of life, and realize that we have more in common than not.
    5. Critical Thinking: When students are making a work of art, the process includes conceptual and interpretational thinking that helps build their critical thinking skills including observation, reasoning, and problem-solving. During the creative process, children use logic and problem solving to strategize how to reach their intended outcome. Critical thinking skills are also in play when observing and analyzing famous works. This ability to think critically to solve problems in a unique way is key to the 21st century workplace.