Art Department

Dearborn MI Public Schools

Importance of Art

“Schools…should not be boot camps for learning how to make a living, they should be places for learning how to make a life”

Watch what students have to say about why art is important in school

Something to consider

“Consider that 65% of the population are visual learners and 90% of the information that comes to the brain is visual. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Art education not only fills a critical gap in institutional learning, it also dovetails with the way in which we interpret the world.” -Kranzler,  3M Corporation

10 Lessons the Arts Teach

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.

7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.

Dr. Elliot Eisner is emeritus professor of Art and Education at Stanford University. He is active in several fields including arts education, curriculum reform & qualitative research.


Benefits of Art Education in the Core Curriculum

There is a significant correlation between schools that have adopted the arts as central to the curriculum (i.e., taught every day together with other core subjects), and student achievement, both academic and in person growth.


  • Art is a real world experience. Learning by doing.
  • Art develops aspirations to achieve, to get better.
  • Art requires hard work to perfect certain techniques demanded of the specific art form.
  • Art requires discipline. (Mental; need for practice for proficiency.)
  • Student discovers a particular strength of interest, generating an excitement about learning. He/She becomes motivated, interested and involved in school. Boredom and alienation are eliminated, dropout rates are reduced.
  • Arts performance requires accountability, particular in a group.


  • Art requires intelligent thought.
  • Art requires cognitive activity.
  • Art develops the imagination (where thought itself first begins). If you can imagine something you can make it happen. Not only art, but mathematical and scientific thinking is fed by the imagination. The process which brings about creative advances in science is identical to tat involved in artistic creation.
  • Cognitive psychology suggests art requires multiple intelligences. (Gardner)
  • Art broadens education beyond its current narrow focus. Art serves to enhance creativity in other areas, and balances the over-development of the left brain nature of Western society.


  • Arts builds confidence and self-esteem.
  • Art develops beneficial work habits.
  • Art develops specific skills. These skills are needed in the business community, e.g. art provides students with the ability to organize thought and to speak and write well; to perceive not just analyze; to see the whole not just the parts; to deal with complexity and ambiguity. Art gives the student the capacity for sound judgments; enhanced reading skills; math and science reasoning skills; interpersonal development.
  • Art elevates the tone of a school. (Students have higher sense of achievement.)
  • Art provides students with more rigorous education.
  • Art promotes higher SAT scores.
  • Art provides better education at equal or lower cost. Students achieve more, learn more, grow enthusiastic about learning.

Through the study of the arts, students are able to:

  • Learning basic forms of communication.
  • Learn about the interaction among historical events, the arts and cultures of people, past and present
  • Sharpen their cognitive sapacities.
  • Increase their perceptual abilities.
  • Learn to perceive subtleties and complexities.
  • Learn to make assessments on the basis of standards and criteria.
  • Develop artistic judgments that will help them become discriminating consumers.
  • Learn that problems have multiple solutions.
  • Find opportunites to describe, analyze, compare, interpret, infer, generalize, and develop hypotheses.
  • Acquire multiple forms of literacy.

In creating art, students are able to:

  • Unlock their creative potential.
  • Put ideas and thoughts into concrete and abstract forms.
  • Develop problem solving skills.
  • Develop reasoning abilities.
  • Develop and exercise judgment.
  • Turn experiences into opportunities for exploration.
  • Develop craftsmanship, organization and flexibility.
  • Develop skills for career and leisure time activities.


Education Through Art

When young children engage in expressive art activities, they —

  • Can give vent to thoughts and emotions in healthy, growth producing ways
  • Gain a sense of accomplishment which helps move them along the path toward self-affirmation.
  • Dare to try new ways of doing things
  • Develop the ability to make choices
  • Grow toward achieving independence and autonomy
  • Appreciate the value of tools in human hands
  • Learn about the properties of a variety of materials
  • Begin to accept and value the work of others as well as their own
  • Heighten their perceptual powers
  • Grow to meet new challenges with greater flexibility
  • Come to appreciate the aesthetic elements in their environment


Children Learn Through Art

Physical/Perceptual Development

  • Tactile-kinesthetic awareness
  • Visual awareness information and ideas
  • Spatial awareness
  • Body awareness
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Laterality and directionality
  • Shape, size, color discrimination
  • Figure-ground orientation
  • Part-Whole discrimination
  • Fine motor control
  • Technical skills

Cognitive Development

  • Clarify and elaborate meaning
  • Associate, relate
  • Sequence events
  • Understand cause and effect
  • Solve problems
  • Make decisions
  • Generalize
  • Communicate nonverbally

Social/Emotional Development

  • Sense of trust
  • Sense of autonomy/independence
  • Sense of identity/individuality
  • Extend flexibility
  • Aesthetic growth
  • Appreciate and value others’ ideas and work
  • Express and deal positively with emotions
  • Share
  • Cooperate
  • Take turns (delay gratification)
  • Adapt to group needs/intersets
  • Resolve interpersonal conflicts
  • Acquire interests for leisure time

Taken from the book Art: Basic for Young Children by Lila Lasky and Rose Mukerji.  (NAEYC publication)


What We Learn

98% of what we teach using art, music, physical movement, and/or drama

95% of what we teach someone else
80% of what we experience personally
70% of what is discussed with others
50% of what we hear and see
30% of what we see
20% of what we hear
10% of what we read
1% of what we do on a worksheet

W.M. Glasser and Brain-Based Teaching and Learning


Why Art Education?

From the Davis Publications Art Education Advocacy Guide, 2009-2010

What does art education do for the individual and for society?  Why do we teach art?  How does art contribute to education at all levels?  There are many good answers to these questions, but three stand out as crucial in today’s social and economic climate.  We believe that art-and therefore art education-means three things that everyone wants and needs.

Art Means Work

Beyond the qualities of creativity, self-expression, and communication, art is a type of work.  This is what art has been from the beginning.  This is what art is from childhood to old age.  Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work-work done to the best of one’s ability, for its own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done.  There is a desperate need in our society for a revival of the idea of good work, work for personal fulfillment, work for social recognition, work for economic development.  Work is one f the noblest expressions of the human spirit, and art is the visible evidence of work carried to the highest possible level.  Today we hear much about productivity and workmanship.  Both of these ideals are strengthened each time we commit ourselves to the endeavor of art.  We art dedicated to the idea that art is the best way for every young person to learn the value of work.

Art Means Literacy

Art is a language of visual images that everyone must learn to read.  In art classes, we make visual images, and we study images.  Increasingly, these images affect our needs, our daily behavior, our hopes, our opinions, and our ultimate ideals.  That is why the individual who cannot understand or read images is not completely educated.  Complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, and dtalk about visual images.  Therefore, to carry out its total mission, art education stimulates language-spoken and written-about visual images.  As art teachers, we work continuously on the development of critical skills.  By teaching pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret vis states it wual images, we enhance their powers of verbal expression.  That is no education frill.

Art Means Value

You cannot touch art without touching values: values about home and family, work and play, the individual and society, nature and the environment, war and peace, beauty and ugliness, violence and love.  The great art of the past and the present deals with these durable human concerns.  As art teachers, we do not indoctrinate.  But when we study the art of many lands and peoples, we expose our students to the expression of a wide range of human values and concerns.  We sensitize students to the fact that values shape all human efforts, and that visual images can affect their personal value choices.  All of them should be given the opportunity to see how art can experss the highest aspirations of the human spirit.  From that foundation we believe that they will be in a better position to choose what is right and good.

Read more about the benefits of art education:


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