I believe art education provides students and educators alike with an opportunity to grow and develop not only artistically but also spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Although he declared the mind a tabula rasa nearly 400 years ago, we still find John Locke’s theory thriving in many modern classrooms. Instead of teaching as if a child had a mind to fill, or instead of teaching as if a child was a mere brain on a stick I believe art education focuses on the whole being of all who enter the classroom.
A High School English teacher of mine, understood what it meant to teach holistically. Although she was an English teacher, every assignment incorporated an expressive component that allowed the students to experiment in various mediums. Towards the end of the semester each student was to partner up and focus on a particular book, an assignment which would culminate at the end of the year when each group would present their memoir or novel in any way they see fit.
My partner and I read Angela’s Ashes and put together a modern book report extravaganza for our final presentation. My partner wrote and recorded a traditional style Irish folk song while I wrote poems and created a few pieces of artwork. While creating my pieces I found myself transported to a world that I had not yet reached while reading the memoir. Although the book was an emotional journey for me, traveling back to those emotions on my own accord, through my own creative endeavors truly was a gigantic leap forward in my emotional development.
Any variety of inspired expression will ultimately lead to growth in mind, spirit, and emotion. Creating an artistic piece, be it a painting or a poem requires head, heart, and soul. Working, reworking, and completing each piece of art is in essence working, reworking, and completing a short, yet vital, journey in personal expression, personal belief, and personal expansion.