How Art Education Can Help Students Improve Reading Comprehension
By Guest Writer, Clara Richman
No, art may not solve any of the world’s problems. It’s not a cure for cancer. It’s not a means of solving world hunger. And it’s certainly not a driving force of world peace. But art, which is often taught as an extracurricular activity in schools, does something that neither of the aforementioned examples can do – and that makes us aware of such problems while enhancing basic development. It’s why art classes are often taught at a young age and continued throughout the course of a child’s educational development.
In fact, studying art is often linked closely with picking up things such as cognitive and critical thinking as well as verbal and reading skills more quickly than those who don’t study art. Why? Just think about it for a second. It all traces back to the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Students who study art study more than just a picture or a painting in many circumstances – they study a message, an idea, or a subliminal meaning. It’s the discussion and thought process that goes into uncovering this meaning where students have the most to gain from art education. What’s more is that art is proven to develop greater self-discipline and self-confidence in students, which are other essential skills not just for the classroom, but also for real-life application.
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And this isn’t just hearsay – there’s evidence to support it. Case in point: Rand Corporation released findings stating that the art experience can connect people more deeply with the world and the common issues that society faces in this world. Essentially, the study argues that by studying art, people develop deeper connections and enhance their perception of understanding complex problems. Art education is said to enhance one’s creativity and open new doors that otherwise would have been closed if not for an understanding of art. It’s why it’s stressed in educational settings, why there are various specialty art schools, and why several non-profits are making it their mission to send even the most underprivileged children to art school. It’s that important.
In fact, there are countless professionals who have taken art classes in higher education settings to broaden their understanding of things, even if they’re not so-called “artists.” Take the case of John Semple, chief surgeon at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. Along with his degrees in medicine, he also has an art degree hanging on the walls of his office. Why? Because he credits art education as “training in observation,” allowing him to see and be aware of things he might otherwise not be. This could, in essence, be the difference between success and failure in a career as specific and detail-oriented as the medical field.
Art education begins at an early age and is typically offered in early classroom settings in elementary schools. Oftentimes, this education is continued throughout middle school and students can take more specialized art classes in high school and higher education settings like college. There are also specific art schools, such as Academyart.edu Art School, which teach students everything from industrial design to acting to art history and fashion. Art is important, perhaps the strongest tool for development. It provides students with context and critical thinking skills that will help them improve their ability to comprehend a text.
About the Author:
Clara is from Minneapolis, MN, raised by parents at the opposite end of the education spectrum: her father, an elementary school principal; and her mother, a middle school substitute teacher. Now living in San Diego, Clara draws on that dichotomy when writing about education.