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Art Education and Human Development

The general response to Art Education and Human Development by Howard Gardner

This book looks into the value given to arts education by the governments and other stakeholders considering the strides arts education has made in recent years. Before appreciation of democratic processes, many totalitarian regimes considered artists as people who were out to question the excesses of the governments by use of different media of expression. Earlier forms of art were stage plays which were mostly satirical and the authorities trampled on the artists and other performers who were exposing the activities of the governments.

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The value of art in a given society is gauged by how much the same society has inculcated art into their culture (Gardner, 1990, p.14-16). The Maasai community in Kenya passed traditional modes of dressing to the young ones over the years and their ornamental art was adopted to guide some fashion styles in modern times. Art has been part of their culture and they have internalized their identity. This makes it easier for art education to have meaning to these people because of the value their elders have placed on their art.

The education system in America varies from state to state and hence there are no standards for arts education across the system. In the schools where art thrives, the children have the materials that the teachers and the curriculum need them to use thereby restricting their creativity and imagination. Schools in Japan and other East Asian countries where art is part of the culture have created open classrooms where the students can go to practice art even in their free time. This promotes self-discovery in the students and they can extend their thoughts beyond the classroom syllabus.

The Chinese culture is known for its respect for fitness and visual art. They have open spaces where children, youths, and the aged go to have moments of reflection and relaxation to refresh their souls. Painting is also done at these spots and the children learn calligraphy using the old paintbrush and paint. This is tradition passing as well as developing fresh minds to come up with ideas of solving societal problems they might experience in the future (Gardner 1990, p.24-30).

Human beings have different strengths and hence a student has a free will to choose a particular subject over others. Their decisions are not based on the importance the parents, the teachers, and the authorities place on the subject. Education policies and legislations are formed based on the value given to the subjects in a particular social setting. The value of education is derived from development needs and should also consider the diversity of the people residing in the area.

The book looks at how human development affects learning. It argues that learning is a continuous process starting at the birth of a child, young children who cannot make meaningful conversations learn about their culture by observation and imitation of what their close elders do.

Learning art cannot be done in the classroom alone but it is cultured into the minds of children as they grow up. This appreciation of art as a discipline gives the children varied career choices to choose from. Culturing art also leads to specialization in a specific form and hence the artists are sure of good pay if they do a beautiful piece.

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Role in educating students, colleagues, administrators, parents, and the community to change the perceptions of the arts as an essential component of a child’s education

The trend in America now is that art as a subject is allocated little coverage time in schools compared to languages and sciences. The stakeholders in the education sector and curriculum developers are the ones to blame since the amount of attention they give to a discipline determines the weight with which students accord that particular subject. The parents have also been engulfed in the thought and some coerce their children to do subject they want not taking into consideration the strengths of each student. The bias against art is an issue of concern since it is a discipline that encourages creativity in the students (Eisner, 1998, p.79-90).

The time allocated to each subject determines the worth of the subject and its value. Increased learning time ensures that the students delve deep into all aspects of the subject thereby getting a deeper understanding. In many classes, the students take a lot of their time practicing mathematics and science-based subjects while studies on arts are generally restricted to examination periods. The truth that is told to the students is that art is rewarding and hence strong students in the discipline are natured without victimization on their career choices.

Arts is a very flexible discipline, this means that there are no definite solutions to problems in art and by extension life. Science is about already established theories and hypotheses while arts give the skills to overcome our rapidly changing daily challenges. Art creates imagination as artworks communicate ideas to the user; the artist tries to give different perspectives on several issues. Without art, the students’ ability to think outside the established boundaries is hindered and this suppresses their creativity. The teachers and education stakeholders need to understand that the developments we seek to make cannot be done if creativity is not enhanced. Art has been able to design efficient cars and architecture that reduces the amount of energy consumed by the objects.

According to Eisner (1998 p.82- 84), the arts encourage self and global discovery among the students. This is because innovations occur as we engage in adventures out of the ordinary; the human mind is taken through a journey by the use of sound and visual media of expression in art. Parents and the community as a whole need to realize art’s importance to the students since the subject has evolved over the years to sub-disciplines that are responsive to specific demands in the market.


Eisner, E. (1998). The misunderstood role of arts in human development. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.

Gardner, H. (1990). Art education and human development. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Center for Education in the Arts.

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