Do we need art? Why?

Of course, unless we are Philistines, we enjoy “consuming” works of art — listening to songs, watching plays and movies, admiring a painting or sculpture, reading novels, reciting poetry, etc — but is that the only reason we need art? And is having it appreciated by others the only purpose of creating art?

We are particularly interested in what “Art Education” means to children, so we explored this using a poll with this image on the Schools 4.0 and Parenting with Metta channels:

While only a small sample responded, the answer was overwhelmingly in favour of Process, 45 votes to 11. If we ignore the 9 votes on Twitter (2:2) and LinkedIn (1:4), which are not platforms commonly used to share art, much less children’s art, the result is even more stark: 42 to 5 in favour of Process.

But this result doesn’t seem to match with how we see adults talking about children’s art, at least on Social media 🤷🏾‍♂️

Consider this recent post titled “Look at this son’s ability”.

At the time of writing (30th October) it has 2.6k shares, 1.4k reactions (2k including reactions on public shares), and 93 comments (126 including comments on public shares).

The vast majority of the comments are either appreciating the art or congratulating the artist (mostly as emojis/GIFs) with the balance conveying good wishes for his future.

100% Result and 0% Process.

It’s the same with almost all children’s art we’ve seen on social media — mostly this is visual arts, because they are easier to share, and what is shared is the result (although the beaming artist sometimes accompanies the finished product, much like in the public post above). The comments are on the lines of “well done”, “beautiful”, “what a talented child”, etc..

We’ve only seen one post recently that went against that grain, where the photo and caption captured the emotions of the child (“she enjoys being an artist”.)

We believe it is important to celebrate art and recognize artists — but is that only when the art is so beautiful that it arouses admiration? Is that why, in order to motivate children, we sometimes dish out artificial praise?

And if we can’t produce art worthy of admiration, if we can’t “perform” to that high standard, should we not bother?

Here’s our thoughts on Art Education:

And here is some more food for thought:

  1. Remembering Sir Ken Robinson’s legacy on Art Education
  2. Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to a high school, narrated by Sri Ian McKellen
  3. Art Education in the #Kannangara Report (Report on the Special Committee on Education, Ceylon, 1943)

What are your thoughts on the importance of Art Education?
Let’s talk about it, or your thoughts on this article, on
our Discourse server.

Learning communities for whole-person education towards a more compassionate world