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Why Arts Education Matters in a Visual Age

In 2009, the National Art Education Association published a white paper explaining the importance of arts education for America’s “digital native” students. Now, in 2014, the information from the NAEA’s paper holds as true as ever.

Why Visual Arts Education Matters:

  • Students in art classes learn a “remarkable array of mental habits not emphasized elsewhere in schools” (including observing, envisioning, innovating, and reflecting)
  • Observation — taught in art classes — is a skill needed by naturalists, climatologists, doctors, and other STEM field workers
  • Visual arts encourage using mental imagery to problem solve — a skill used by chemists and architects to create new models
  • Visual arts instruction teaches students to value diverse perspectives and cultures — something that’s increasingly important in a global society
  • Quality art instruction helps students see patterns, learn from their mistakes, and envision creative new solutions 
  • Visual arts education has been shown to motivate students who might otherwise be at risk of dropping out of school
  • Quality arts instruction teaches visual-spatial abilities, self-reflection, and experimentation — skills that are not well-addressed in other areas of school curriculums

Today’s students live in a world that is largely defined by interaction with visual communications like advertising, mobile apps, video games, and photo sharing. The skills taught in quality arts classes help students think critically about the visual information they’re receiving nearly 24/7.

Those critical thinking skills will help guide today’s students not just to consume information, but to design it. Quality arts education is a critical aspect of students’ K-12 education, guiding students not just to be consumers of visual information, but to be designers and creators of visual information in the future.

To learn more about arts education in Missouri, visit the Missouri Art Education Association website.

To read the full NEAE report, click here.

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