As teachers complain of an increasingly packed curriculum, finding time to prioritise the arts can seem difficult. After all, literacy and numeracy results get the greatest scrutiny from governments and parents. Despite this, it’s not hard to find evidence of the advantages of artistic exploration within the classroom.
Benefits of art in the classroom Arts can provide a space in which we can examine some of the bigger questions about how we work as a society. Researchers from the University of Illinois add weight to this idea, finding that engaging in an artistic pursuit correlates with higher levels of civic engagement and tolerance.
Seen more immediately, the arts invite concentration and a state of flow, linked to lower stress and improved memory. Moreover, in an environment where students heavily rely on screens inside and outside the classroom, the physical act of writing, drawing, painting, manipulating objects or playing musical instruments can help develop and refine coordination and fine motor skills.
Barriers to quality art education Although we have pinpointed advantages, there are some common barriers that prevent regular classroom teachers from introducing art in the right way.
• Lack of teacher confidence – If not specialised in the arts, teachers can lack confidence in their own abilities to model work or freely express themselves, especially if they are not adequately supported at a school level.
• Not enough funds – Budget cuts often mean that subjects that aren’t seen to have a direct impact on academic achievement feel the pinch.
• Preparation difficulties – Crushed under the weight of planning, the physical demands of teaching, and administration, setting up a dynamic and interesting art lesson can seem too arduous.
Bringing art to your class – how to do it While some difficulties are rooted in external factors, with the right motivation and some creativity, teachers can still create a positive environment for engagement with art.
• Be a positive role model – Despite the increasing autonomy being given to students, the teacher still sets the tone for the classroom, with openness and a positive attitude going a long way.
• Explore cross-curriculum capabilities – Mixing art with other subjects can bolster its importance in the eyes of students and parents while generating greater interest.
• Create a non-judgemental and rich environment – Art and music are about expression, which is precisely why they can play a powerful role in bringing students together. Creating a stimulating and open space for this to occur is key.
No matter your idea, COS is here to support you with affordable and eco-friendly art and craft supplies.
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