6. Why so much emphasis on hands-on artmaking in both k-12 and undergraduate art education?

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    Given that most k-12 and undergraduate art students will never become practicing artists, why do you think there is so much emphasis on hands-on artmaking in both k-12 and undergraduate art education? In 2007, Through the Flower, my small, non-profit arts organization, launched a free, downloadable k-12 Dinner Party curriculum. Its goal was to provide guidelines for teachers interested in integrating The Dinner Party into their classrooms. In addition, I had hoped that teachers would use the curriculum to move towards a broad-based education in the arts in order to help students understand that there are many ways to be involved in art, which has proven to be extremely difficult. Should art education change and if so, how? #JCstudio

    Beth Clayton

    I think that hands on art making is probably the most important part of art education whether students will become participating artists or not. The act of doing and making art teaches skills like problem solving and critical thinking. It broadens students minds and allows them to explore their options and develop their concepts as they go. If art classes were more talking than doing then they would just be art theory classes and I think that would just feed into the type-A mindless drone society that most school are already trying to create.


    The age of electronics has taken away much of the time that children used to spend drawing/coloring/creating at home. I see students who start Kindergarten not knowing how to hold a crayon or pencil let alone scissors, but put an iPad or video game controller in their hands and they’re completely comfortable. The majority of students in art education will not become artists or art educators, so the hands on experience is essential for fine motor development. Once students have gained a foundation of skills, they can participate and feel successful in limitless topics taught through their art education.


    I believe that it is essential to have hands-on art making in both k-12 and undergraduate art education, because without these practices in place, art education would lose all its meaning. When looking at the concept of autonomy in the classroom for the sake of forming students to participate in a democratic society, the process of having materials for the students to work with, whatever they may be, allows them to develop their voices while also developing critical thinking skills, as was mentioned in a previous comment. Whatever materials the students might choose to develop their concepts and ideas, this process is essential to the formation of the students individual identity. Certainly, a student may choose to explore digital art, and the curriculum should be open to that, but there should also be other materials available for them.


    I think that hands-on art making in both k-12 and undergraduate art education has so much emphasis because it is very therapeutic. From personal experience, I took a class in high school called crafts and it really helped me get my mind off the tough classes and the other problems that I was worrying about. I know that my mom took a painting class after her father died and it really helped her grieve the pain. Creating something handmade is not something that most people do everyday and it gives people an opportunity to show others that they can make something solely by themselves. It is nice to see something being planned and then finished from start to end. A lot of people will start projects and give up, but I think it is essential not to give up on yourself and let yourself finish something that your proud of. It is also cool to be in a classroom and receive an assignment and see how everybody’s project is different from your because everybody thinks slightly different.


    There is so much emphasis on hands-on art making in both k-12 and undergraduate art education because it helps develop many skills needed in life. Starting hands on art at a young age helps to develop fine motor skills in these young children that they will use their whole life. Art is also a way to develop a person’s creativity, educators want to start the creative side of the brain in children at young age that develops over time to be able to think clearly about new ideas. What I enjoyed most about my art classes was it was a place for me to relax and be my self. Art is the best expression of someone and I think that is another reason it is so important to emphasize as children grow because they have an outlet to be who they are and create what they want. Art classes was that outlet for me while classes like math and science were so black and white, I could go to art class and create all different colors.


    Hands on art making allows for people to connect both physically and thoughtfully with a work of art. Helping to produce that work enables individuals to think critically about the work and its meaning. They have to problem solve the intent of the work and the most effective way to convey their message while also considering aesthetics and other elements within the piece. In school I think hands on art making helps to capture students love of creating and engage them in deeper conversations spurred by the production of a central work of art.




    In my mind, there are many reasons as to why hands on art making is emphasized in K-12 learning. I believe one of the most important reasons is because art making can aid students in other aspects of learning. Being able to have the time to create and make with your hands can be beneficial for many students, even therapeutic to some. As a student who thrives in a more relaxed, creative environment, my art classes were something I looked forward to in grade school. It gave me a different type of learning experience that more rigid classes like math or science could not provide me. Lastly, as I mentioned prior, it helps in a verity of other areas of life. While not every student participating in art making will grow up to be a practicing artist, it can teach them things like patience, collaboration, and problem solving.

    Maggie Higgins

    I believe that hands on art making is crucial to young people as it allows us to use different motions that we typically wouldn’t use. Although this isn’t as important in adults, I believe it is very important for children to explore all of the different things their hands are capable of doing and creating. Hands on art making is a relaxing way for children to escape the rigid expectation of neatness in all other school subjects. By moving their hands and producing art at a very young age such as Kindergarten, students are becoming more familiar with motor skills and becoming more self aware of their bodies and how they hold different tools. The creativity they express through hands on art making can then be brought to other subjects to creatively solve problems and process information


    From my experiences, many students in both k-12 and undergraduate art education prefer to create their work by themselves than having someone do it for them. It allows them to express their own views on the world and any emotions they may feel. Along with this, the works students create, to some degree, become important to them as it validates their experiences and possibly even their existence. That what they have created signifies a placement in the world at large and that it (and more likely themselves) should be validated by others.


    I agree with everyone’s responses about the crucial motor skill development, problem solving, and therapeutic value of physically making artworks. As for reasons why art educators are not making the move to broader forms of education and conceptual learning in the studio, I think it has to do a lot with the politics of school and the kind of social issues that come from really engaging in the concepts of the Dinner Party and related issues on power, race, sexuality, and status. Not only is the educational framework resistant or restrictive to discussing issues outside of the standards based curriculum, where maybe they fear backlash from administration or their school’s community for teaching abut difference through the arts. I heard a story just last week about a Michigan school district taking on religious group values to pass a law to ban sexual education courses from covering basic information on gay and transexual people. It goes to show that we are still in a primitive place as far as really engaging our students in deeper thinking about the world they’re coming up in. As for how we need to change it, I believe schools should be making moves away from the constant hammer of reading and writing for the sake of test scores and pick up the kind of practices that build character and responsible young people. I don’t see enough young people caring today.


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