As promised, I asked. At dinner a few nights ago over something kid friendly like spaghetti, I asked my three. Why dear children, is it important to be exposed to art, taught about art and encouraged to make your own? First, the surly 11-year-old grunted “History”. Then the sick 15-year-old mumbled “Dunno”.
I was saved by the 9-year-old who got the conversation rolling. He started with a description of how cool it would be to go to a museum with a friend and be able to have favorites he got to see. How fun it would be to talk about the art. That he would tell his buddy about the refrigerator paintings (take a look at Mark Rothko’s paintings to see what he means). He got the other kids brainstorming and we started their list of reasons children should be exposed to art in all its forms and encouraged to make their own.
- knowing about art allows for a more enjoyable experience; allows you to feel socially connected and able to talk with people. This is an interesting point. It brings to mind the value of a liberal arts education being in part to generate well-rounded, broadly exposed young adults who can interact with others on many levels.
- art helps us remember history. Indeed, this was my point about art preserving our cultural heritage and collective memory. It preserves the past both in the physical sense but also in the ephemera of our thoughts and knowledge base.
- art makes the world less plain. Yes certainly, there is this – the obvious but important view that art education allows an emphasis on the beauty that surrounds us. It helps us raise children who see that in life there is value in the simple moments.
- this ties into the next idea: “art makes me feel good”. And, time spent learning about what makes us individually feel calm and “good” is increasingly important in this pressured world.
- Art can make “me feel different”. Yes, art can challenge us to stretch beyond feeling good. Kids can explore and confront the more difficult sides of life through art.
We would like to generate an ongoing list here of the reasons for arts education. Please add you ideas to the list. Ask your kids tonight and see if you can push them beyond “Dunno”.