Embrace the Arts

This afternoon we had our IB Art Vernissage, one of my favorite IB traditions.  Initially it feels like something so different from what I do every day with the same students and possibly that’s why it appeals to me so.  It also takes place directly outside of my classroom in the student lounge and I enjoy the anticipation created by observing the students and our IB art teacher prepare for the event.

At our school the IB art program has a reputation of being difficult and being a potential source to bring down one’s GPA.  However, my daughter, along with several other students, decided to embark on the two-year journey of IB art as part of the diploma curriculum.  The students are expected to select a theme early on in their pilgrimage towards becoming artists.  Their artwork, then, over the two years is to relate to their theme. 

I look at the displayed work and I am impressed.  None of these IB art students plans a career in art and would have never experienced painting on a canvas, being inspired by multiple artists (and being able to discuss it), creating a clay sculpture, and working in a host of other mediums without this class.  All of them are articulate about how each piece of art relates to their chosen theme.  I am touched by how each student is clearly personally invested in his/her work.  It is enlightening to speak with the individuals and I so enjoy seeing them in the context of an art exhibition.  Of course, they are engaged in an entirely different way as compared to when they are explaining the role of the light dependent reactions in photosynthesis.  Their effort and hours of toiling away in the art room have paid off!  One teacher exclaims, “Now I know what they do tucked away in the art room!  I‘ve always wondered what goes on for hours and hours in there.”  Appropriate “oohs” and “aahs” and nods of approval exude from the group of spectators circulating through the show.  I sense pride and accomplishment from our students.

My daughter in front of some of her art.

There is plenty of literature to support the value of art in education.  An article I recently read refers to skills attained from participating in the arts.  These skills include the following (1):

  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Problem Solving
  • Perseverance
  • Focus
  • Non-Verbal Communication
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback
  • Collaboration
  • Dedication
  • Accountability

Through taking this IB course, our students have gained an actual skill set that will be valuable to them throughout all aspects of life.  While the students presented, it was clear that these skills have, indeed, been transmitted to the students through their artistic odyssey.

If you know someone deliberating on whether to take an art, music, dance or drama class, encourage them to do so!  Future IB students don’t steer away from the Group VI (The Arts) subjects!

In my own life, balance and those very skills listed above became part of who I am through my participation in the orchestra program in my high school and later by playing with a symphony while in college and graduate school.  Additionally, my world was enlarged through the exposure to music, composers, and different artists.  The weekly rehearsals provided an appropriate diversion from my classes and research, allowing me to return fresh and prepared to progress even further having stepped away for a bit. Plus, it was just plain fun to be part of the creation of beautiful music!  How about you?  What are the benefits that you have experienced from participating in The Arts?  Share below!

Strauss, V. (2013, January 21). Top 10 skills children learn from the arts.Washington Post. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/22/top-10-skills-children-learn-from-the-arts/