Developing a Sense of Innovation

According to a report by Americans for the Arts, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.

When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. “The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” says Kohl. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!”

Jenn Burkert, the art specialist at Rohan Woods School, embraces this concept of  process over product.  Recently, we talked about her philosophy in art education.

“I teach in a style that is very child-centered and exposes students to many styles, mediums and artists, Mrs. Burkert continued, I believe art is more about the process, rather than the final product.”

“When children feel confident and comfortable in their learning environment, she said, they have the ability to be creative.  My job is to provide opportunities for students to stretch their creative expression and enjoy the art making process."  Also, Mrs. Burkert shared, introducing students to new art mediums and supplies and how to apply and care for those materials is part of the process.

"I strive to empower students to make mistakes and learn from them, challenge their creative abilities and respect the fact that everyone expresses art in their own unique way.  A great example of that is our Ceiling Tile Project.  The sixth graders express their favorite artist or genre in their own way – which creates a wonderful display of art and gives me some great teaching tools for future students."

When I asked Mrs. Burkert what she loved best about her job she told me, “I love watching and listening to students' during the creative process. I'm always learning and discovering new ways to teach through the eyes of my students.  They inspire me and make my job something I look forward to doing everyday.”  

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