Joseph Beuys’ concept of social sculpture is perhaps one of the most important ideas that unite the fields of art and education. He advocated that through art, human beings can make a greater contribution to society. A social sculptor is anyone who creates a structure –literally or figuratively– within their community using actions, thoughts, social interactions, and objects.
Artistic learning might very well be the most vital piece of an individual’s understanding of the world and their place within the human experience. In art (unlike math, applied sciences, language, and grammar) there are no right or wrong ways to approach a problem. Art teachers set up circumstances that will allow students to formulate an aesthetic, social, and emotional understanding about how to shape their own ideas. Eisner (2002) said that this way of thinking artfully addresses moments in life that cannot be approached using formulas and rules.
Art Education is important because it enables certain ‘habits of mind’ such as (to name a few) listening and empathy, flexible purposing (a John Dewey term that describes how thinking enables shifting directions and finding many outcomes or new avenues of insight), making judgements in the absence of rules, and resisting closure (not to be complacent with one method or solution).
Even though there is no proof that art has a direct correlation to test scores and assessment of other core subjects, the arts develop students into well-rounded individuals. Art allows for a visual understanding of our environment. Student artists learn to think critically and creatively, which can lead to a more comprehensive observation of their surroundings as well as a more empathetic understanding of culture.
In summery, artistic learning gives students the confidence and ability to become active learners; empathetic and expressive communicators; and advanced problem solvers beyond the scope of pragmatism. Not everyone will or should become professional artists, however, they can employ art in their daily lives to succeed in many circumstances.
Cufarro, H (1995). Experience: Variety and Continuity. In Experimenting with the World (pp. 55-67). New York, NY: TC Press.
Eisner, E. (2002, September) What the Arts Do for the Young, SchoolArts, (pp. 16-17).
Eisner, E. (2002). What the arts teach and how it shows. In The arts and the creation of mind (pp. 70-92). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.