SchoolArts Magazine

December 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 12 of 54

A rts are a necessity for all, and we need them desperately in our schools, lives, and the world. We face enormous challenges surrounding climate, war, resources, poverty, and human rights. Education (including art educa - tion) must prepare students to grasp and confront challenges collectively and independently. We need critical, creative, and civic-minded individu- als equipped to encounter a complex world and its problems with imagina - tion, empathy, and joy. Today, schools increasingly squeeze imagination and arts out of the cur - riculum in favor of "core" academic subjects, such as math and science. Instead of curiosity, we encourage conformity; instead of questions, capitulation. We focus on standardiza - tion and memorization. Embracing Imagination The arts can provide a framework for students to rigorously investigate ideas by asking questions and grap - pling with complicated concepts. They involve learning discipline- specific skills within studio-based practices, involving a cycle of inquisi - tive engagement, experimentation with media, interactive feedback, and evaluation of the product or outcome. Mindi Rhoades Educational philosophers and activ- ists John Dewey and Maxine Greene insisted that a primary responsibility of education is to foster and nurture students' imaginations. Embracing imagination provides space for form - ing a sense of possibility, generating new ideas, developing empathy, and cultivating a framework for critical and creative learning. Art-making activates intimate and sustained engagement with materials and ideas, allowing for the development of deeper understandings and questions. The Arts and Empathy Greene insisted that imagination is a necessary precursor to empathy. Using imagination through the arts can foreground a sense of interconnection with others as a way to teach this. Art can provide a window into the lives of others, from viewing Vincent van Gogh's Potato Eaters, to experiencing Shaun Tan's wordless graphic novel The Arrival. With empathy, you must imagine being someone else—experi - encing their circumstances and con- sidering their perspectives. This is key in forming a community and working towards a common cause. Awake, Aware, Alive A primary value of art is its abil - ity to generate and cultivate joy. Art provides ways to express ideas that extend beyond words—that are immeasurable with numbers and exist beyond exams. Art allows us to com - municate and connect on multiple lev- els through a variety of media. It can provide a form of pleasure, of creative and intellectual stimulation and sat - isfaction—moments of being awake, aware, and alive. Students need traditional academic skills and knowledge, but they need to apply these critically and creatively in intelligent, empathetic ways. They need to find and create joy. Mindi Rhoades is assistant professor of teaching and learning at Ohio State University. Rhoades.89 @ Perhaps a primar alue of art is its abilit o generate and cultivate jo . A D V O C A C Y Finding Jo 8 DECEMBER 2015 SchoolArts

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