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Can Art meet the needs of academically gifted kids as well as artistically gifted kids?

April 26, 2012

FACT: Studies have shown that the arts can significantly advance gifted students’ academic and creative abilities and cognitive functioning (e.g., Hetland, 2000; Seeley, 1994; Walders, 2002; and Willet, 1992). This is a strong rationale for making the arts an essential feature of gifted education. Goertz (2002) envisions art instruction as the “fourth R” in education and demonstrates how it increases the skills of observation, abstract thinking, and problem analysis.

  • Education in art is an invitation to use the reasoning skills of an artist. The artist visualizes and sets goals to find and define the problem, chooses techniques to collect data, and then evaluates and revises the problem solution with imagination in order to create….The artist, in his or her creative process, requires a high-order thought process (p. 476).

Source: Council for Exceptional Children

Whether one is academically gifted or artistically gifted (or not), to find success with 21st century skills all students need to build confidence in their ability to learn and take risks. An appropriate art education will facilitate that confidence by dispelling myths about creativity and encouraging joy in process (trial and error). Moreover, critical thinking is a valuable 21st century skill that contributes to higher level cognition. Creating is the ultimate form of critical thinking and the arts are a natural way to foster these skills.

My Philosophy for Teaching Art:

It is my intent to awaken joy and meaning in the process of discovery, which in turn inspires lifelong learners. Art provides us with excellent tools for growth by initiating expression and reflection, stimulating the imagination, developing self-esteem and encouraging openness towards the world around us and the opinions of others.

My students learn that being an artist does not only require technical skill or talent, but also ingenuity and creativity. It is essential that I help students bring to light the unique artists within themselves and to stimulate the development of higher level thinkers through the practice of art and the understanding of its purpose in our world.

Art offers opportunities to students that are not available through other subjects alone. Students often find the Art classroom to be a safe haven for expression and experimentation. I make every effort to differentiate lessons based on the needs of each child as well as encourage students to challenge themselves to think creatively and develop their own resolutions to stumbling blocks.

Through investigative questioning, creative projects, and fascinating history, students learn a great deal about themselves and the world we live in. Before long they find they are capable of many great successes through the experience of Art inside and outside of my class.

Lisa Ricciardelli is the Art teacher at Austin Elementary in Coppell ISD.  To read more about her experience at the 2012 National Art Education Association’s Annual Convention, please click here.

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