As I continue to unravel the multitude of skills that can be developed through an enriching art program, I refer back to a previous blog where I ended with the statement, “The making of art facilitates the development of many skills because it requires many skills, thus challenging the artist to go beyond their perceived capabilities. In a supporting environment, a person’s level of achievement is limitless.”

Art requires focus, and the more one practices to “focus”, the greater his/her capability for focus becomes. And with focus comes attention to detail, stronger cognitive skills, and the ability to problem solve. “Research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus. Without even realizing it, kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems.” Lisa Phillips (2012). (How do I turn this clay into sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion?) “All this practice problem solving,” writes Lisa Phillips, “develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem solving skills necessary for success in any career.”

Skills acquired through art reach beyond problem solving. With continued focus and attention to detail, one can push towards that moment of “aha”; to realizing multiple perspectives and multiple solutions. Elliot Eisner noted in his famous speech entitled What Do The Arts Teach? (Eisner, 2003), “Works of art focus our attention on what would normally go unseen. This calling of attention makes vivid new ways of seeing the world and, when the arts are well taught, illustrates to students new ways in which they themselves can reframe the world for perception.”

The arts teach focus through which children learn that solutions to complex problems are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity revealing “that problems can have MORE than ONE solution and that questions can have more than one answer.” (Eisner, 2003)

References:

Eisner, Elliot W. (2003) http://ed.arte.gov.tw/uploadfile/periodical/429_7_25.pdf

Lisa Phillips (2012) THE ARTISTIC EDGE: 7 SKILLS CHILDREN NEED TO SUCCEED IN AN INCREASINGLY RIGHT BRAIN WORLD. THE ARTISTIC EDGE PUBLISHING.