Growing Up in a House Full of Artists
Cyril Murphy Still Life Jigsaw Puzzle
I grew up in a house where each person valued the Creative Arts.
My father was a singer, dancer and actor. He also tried has hand at painting and loved gardening. Much of the time we lived in hotels and on the weekends there were musical reveries that stretched for days.
I grew up thinking that people just naturally sing, dance and act. I grew up in an environment where being a painter was a highly valued. I grew up thinking visually. (Thanks mum and dad).
Some children don’t grow up in an environment where parents have the time or inclination to paint, sing, act or draw. Some don’t have the privilege of being taken to dancing on a Saturday afternoon.
The Value of Thinking Creatively
That is why it is vital for all classrooms to evolve as environments where the value of creative thinking is demonstrated and emphasised on a daily basis.
When students learn through the arts they experience
• Problem solving
• Thinking strategies
• The development of personal style and taste (Personal Aesthetic)
Can the Arts Really Create Minds?
In the article “The Arts and the Creation of Mind”, Eisner discusses Art’s essential role within the wider curriculum.
The Creative Arts teach students:
- how to make good judgments about qualitative relationships
- that problems can have more than one solution
- to (celebrate) multiple perspectives (Jacobs Process)
- that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity
- to (make vivid) the fact that neither words in their literal form nor number exhaust what we can know
- that small differences can have large effects
- to think through and within a material
- how to learn how to say what cannot be said (ineffability)
- to have experience that can be had from no other source
The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important. [Eisner. 2002]
Eisner encouraged that schools offer a broad and balanced approach to education, and that the curriculum focus proper attention on artistic modes of thinking.
Howard Gardner made a similar point within his argument for attention to ‘multiple intelligences’. (Frames of Mind 2011)
The word I use when discussing the propositions put forward by Eisner is VALANCE.
Eisner developed arguments that encouraged more adequate attention being paid to the cognitive aspects of art activity. He cautioned against attitudes to art being coloured by the idea that its practice is motivated by emotional and what are termed ‘creative’ forces. He powerfully argued that artistic training assists students to develop problem-solving skills. He stressed that environment shapes artistic attitudes.
It is essential, he claimed, that educators allow sufficient space in the day for students to explore the world in their own way, using the capacities that suite them best. If this need is not met, they miss out on a whole form of experiencing that will be necessary for them to attain a high quality of life when they graduate. Students need to be able to make value judgments and to discern what is important for them with regard to quality of life.
Citizenship Education and the Arts
Is it going too far to say that democracy itself is at risk if students are not taught how to be discerning and how to live well with other cultures. To function in democracy voters need to know how to become informed about issues without being caught up in hyperbole or to just follow the crowd. Experiencing the world from a variety of positions can help the student form this ability. (Jacobs Process)
A well balanced education that addresses the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical needs of the students whilst at the same time training them for their chosen ‘life’s career’ is of benefit to all.
The ideal would be that the arts are interwoven with all aspects of the curriculum. This would ensure that Multiple Intelligences are spoken to and engaged with in a variety of subtle as well as explicit ways.
I have gathered here an approach to building artistic endeavour into class room activities so that the comprehensive overview of the units of work depend and work through Visual Art.
As Jacobs Process is further refined and explained you will se a shift in emphasis that does not discard Visual Literacy but further the blends the strands of the Arts so that each student becomes aware of the importance of creative thinking in and strategising through the creative arts.
- Eisner,E. The Arts and the Creation of Mind. 2002. Yale University Press
- Gardner,H. (2011) Frames of Mind. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books.
- Murphy,J. (2013) Global Citizens Creative Arts Text. Insights and Activities. Kindle
- Murphy,J. (2006) Elliot Eisner’s 10 Lessons
- Smith. M.K, (2005) Elliot W. Eisner, Connoisseurship, Criticism and the Art of Education. INFED
- Murphy,J. (2012.) Submergence : Ways to Access Online Learning.