Friday, February 11, 2011

Reasons for Teaching Art

Although there are many different players that add their voice to the Arts Education conversation, many of them with their own reasons for the integration of the fine arts in the classroom, we must step back and realize the umbrella for which they all advocate: to educate our youth in the best possible fashion, which includes the inclusion of such programs for the betterment of our society as a whole.
            My earliest art educators were few and far between, but I do remember that they were enthusiastic about making or crafting things, cutting and gluing, but not necessarily given enough time to teach why those things were learned in accordance to any other discipline and the benefits each held in developing us for our future. It was determined that I was gifted in art, but it was my self-motivation that gave me the confidence that propelled me further as an artist much later in life.
            In the last seven years, the population of teaching and working artists within close proximal distance from my community, very near where I grew up and where I never envisioned coming back to, has grown and what has followed is a stronger conversation and sense from the members of our communities for why the arts should be valued and taught in our schools. Those peers with whom I questioned for what teaching the arts should do, not surprisingly linked very closely with my own idea on the topic, mainly because of our close working relationship.
Their opinions valued that the arts increased higher order thinking skills, developed hand-eye coordination along with developing critically thinking, self-expressive and confident individuals. But, their views also included the notions for a promotion of social change, which is self-evident as I’ve been witness to the growth and awareness here. Very similar to what Superintendent Carlos Garcia’s mission disclosed, Reimagine Learning: Building a District on Arts Education, the members of our communities are becoming more adamant that the arts are a way of closing the achievement gaps, creating motivation and energy for students to engage in their learning and that by including the community in this conversation this educational reform, that has been discussed in length for years, can be realized and fostered.
Through a not for profit art organization that I helped start in this area four years ago, artists, teachers, parents, community officials and members have risen and banned together to one, make the arts and artisans living here more visible to the public and two, to educate those individuals who wish to realize the self-fulfilling qualities that come from the arts. We have become promoters of artists, artisans, thespians, musicians, writers and the like, finding that the enthusiasm and interest for these efforts has only increased.
By becoming leaders in our communities, teachers and advocates, much like Mr. Garcia, including the different players in the conversation of the importance of the arts, our successes have and will only help facilitate economic growth, the future of our youth, and the betterment of our society as a whole.  

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