Art for Our Sake

Seeing, imagining, inventing, and thinking! These are at least four valuable learning tools taught in visual arts classrooms according to Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland. Several years ago, Winner and Hetland wrote an article, Art for Our Sake: School Art Classes Matter More Than Ever—But Not for Reasons You Think.

The authors suggest that we need arts in schools to introduce students to aesthetic appreciation, and to teach ways of seeing, imagining, inventing, and thinking. These learned lessons of art help students to see new patterns, learn from mistakes, and how to envision solutions. Winner and Hetland spent an academic year studying five visual arts classrooms in two Boston area schools. Based on their study of these art classes, they discovered that arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills not often addressed elsewhere in the curriculum. In addition to learning art techniques, students were taught mental habits, which the authors identified as eight studio habits of mind. These habits include observing, envisioning, innovation, persistence, expression, and reflection. Think back to your art classroom experience – how did you make use of observing, envisioning, innovation, persistence, expression, and reflective self-evaluation? If, as suggested that these habits of mind are also valuable learning tools outside of the classroom, how are you using them in your personal and professional lives? Consider the following ideas related to three of the habits:

Observing: See what is around you that is collectable. What do you like?

Envisioning: Imagine newly collected framed piece(s) on your wall. How will your home gallery look if you added a new work? Took a piece away? How can you rearrange pieces?

Innovation: Experiment and explore possibilities.

Overall in your daily lives, consider how you can use the learned lessons of art to see new patterns, learn from mistakes, and envision solutions.

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