Friday, January 29, 2010

Why Art Class?

A Christian School Art Teacher's Perspective

By Cheryl Funk
Christian School of York

Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts--to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers--all of them master craftsmen and designers.
--Exodus 35:30-35

Why art class? Fine arts have the unique ability to communicate visual beauty as well as instill life skills such as persistence, creativity, and expression, therefore developing the child as a whole. Research has shown that art classes encourage various types of contemplative skills such as visual-spatial, reflection, self-criticism, experimentation, and learning from mistakes. Even the Bible begins with creation in Genesis 1:1, inscribing, “In the beginning God created.” Core to our very existence is our Creator’s ability to envision and embody a new form for His creation.

Persistence is a critical skill for students to learn in today’s fast paced environment. Art projects are not finished in a single class period, but must be refined, maybe even for several weeks.

Creativity is an inextricable step in problem solving. Any vocation or profession today demands an individual’s ability to think critically and “outside the box” in order to excel. The traditional approach to a self-portrait would be simply to paint a likeness. Thinking “outside the box” opens many avenues with which to experiment. A self-portrait in mixed media collage involves giving the viewer insight into the individual’s personality. This occurs as personal items such as pictures, drawings, and memorabilia are used perhaps giving us more of a self-portrait than merely a likeness.

Expression of the student’s ideas, emotion, vision, and voice may also be displayed visually. Art students are encouraged to see their projects in relation to other subjects. Whether students create insects in clay, using correct anatomical construction, or create an African mask from the same natural materials the Africans used, they are challenged to think critically and across disciplines in order to apply the learning also taking place in subjects like science and social studies courses.

For students who are challenged in the fine arts there are educational benefits for actively participating in an Arts program. According to Americans for the Arts, students of art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, write an award winning poem or essay, or enter a math or science fair.

In order to consider a student’s education complete, there must be a comprehensive and ordered study of the theory, techniques, and history of Art in societies. Some of the most enduring works are visual; the Parthenon, Sistine Chapel, or Michelangelo’s “David” are both visually enduring and symbolic to customs and religion in history.

Appreciation for external beauty is a reflection of God’s creative ability. Francis Schaeffer noted, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God--not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself.”

Schaeffer, Francis A. “Art and the Bible.” Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1978.

No comments:

Post a Comment