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The Arts Statement

The Newfoundland Labrador Department of Education (2009) states, “To create art is to

share personal experiences and attitudes. To look at and understand the art work of others is to

learn something about their experiences and attitudes” (p. 8). It is difficult to put a single

definition on what art is, specifically. The concept incorporates such a broad understanding with

a vast amount of variety and individual differences. However, using elements from the previous

quote, I would propose the following definition of art in the education context: the intentional

expression of feelings and ideas through visual elements. This is a very broad framework, and

allows us to incorporate many different aspects of personal expression. Every child should be

able to communicate comfortably and effectively in this visual form of language.

Bringing art into the classroom is not only critical for students to be able to learn aspects

of self-expression, but helps them develop intellectually and socially as well. These concepts are

demonstrated in this art lesson that I taught for a group of nine- and ten-year-olds. As Robert D.

Clements and Frank Wachowiak (2010) argue, “The goal of education is to help students

develop both their intellectual capabilities and their capacity to express their thoughts and

feelings” (p. 6). Bringing art into the classroom is perfectly matched to address both of these

goals for students. In my lesson, students had to demonstrate their own understanding of line

concepts and represent their feelings visually. In addition, they had to discuss and critique other

students’ art, giving feedback and interpretation to their pieces. Not only does art promote

personal expression and self-awareness, but it also promotes literacy and cognition in all forms.

It can enrich the learning experience when paired with other academic subjects as well to provide

unique insight and hands-on excitement for students.

The arts present a unique opportunity in the classroom where they can become a key

component of integration into other subject areas. This allows the experience of art creation to

take on an even more meaningful role in the learning process, while also enhancing and

bolstering students’ understanding in other subject areas. As Marshall (2006) suggests,

“integration does not devalue art as a domain unto itself, but acknowledges its power and scope”

(p. 19). Although the art lesson example given above is not directly integrated into another

subject area, it could easily be integrated into a Social Emotional Learning experience discussing

individuality and expressions of our own personalities. The process of giving a receiving

feedback between students is another learning opportunity in social interaction, while helping

students to be flexible as they learn a new skill.

As students develop as artists in the classroom, it is important to be aware of the feedback

given to them about their work. My students are at the stage where they are developing their

identities as artists and beginning to form an understanding of where they fit in the social

construct of the classroom. How I respond to their art can nudge them in the direction of having

a productive identity of themselves and their creations (Johnston, 2004). I believe that

constructive feedback is particularly critical when discussing art in the classroom, as it is

teaching students how to analyze art themselves. However, Johnston (2012) gives some advice

for the types of feedback we should provide to students: “Don’t use person-oriented praise.

Instead, use process-oriented feedback” (p. 38). This way, students associate the feedback with

the process they went through to create the artwork, rather than with their value as an artist.

Mistakes are approachable and don’t create a devastating or hopeless result.

Art is a critical component to any classroom. Whether it’s integrated into other content

areas, or standing on it’s own as a content area. It demonstrates its flexibility and range in the

possibilities and potential for learning opportunity. Art allows students a unique opportunity to

express their own feelings and ideas through a visual format, allowing others to share in their



Clements, Robert D., & Wachowiak, Frank. (2010). Emphasis art: A qualitative art program for

elementary and middle schools. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Johnston, P. H. (2012). Opening minds: Using language to change lives. Portland, ME:


Johnston, P. H. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children’s learning. Portland,

ME: Stenhouse.

Marshall, J. (2006). Substantive art integration = exemplary art education. Art Education, 59(6),

17-24. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Newfoundland Labrador Department of Education. (2009). Artistic Development in Children.

Newfoundland Labrador: Canada. Government Printing Office.