I was a classroom teacher for thirteen years. One element of teaching that continued to inspire me over and over again was how often (daily) I witnessed the positive effects of incorporating the arts into my curriculum.
Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Children are uninhibited. Introducing them to the arts opens up their world to an even greater degree, allowing them to feel the freedom of viewing their life experiences from a variety of different perspectives.
2. Creativity builds confidence. Because creativity covers such a broad spectrum and the end results are limitless, children experience success immediately. As human beings, when we experience success, we have more motivation to continue to explore and investigate (not just one road, but many).
3. Creativity creates a platform for children to explore without fear of judgement. With this practice and experience, one is much more likely to take risks as well as take the time to assess different scenarios and problem solve accordingly.
4. Creativity develops focus. Participating in a creative activity over the course of an open ended amount of time allows children to become focussed and reap the pleasure of what this focus feels like.
5. Creativity can take the form of another language. The act of art making is another form of self expression. Given opportunities to create, children are much more likely to seek other ways to express themselves.
When I work with adults, I find these same ideas apply. Sometimes it may take a bit more effort to let go of current beliefs, break down learned barriers and find one's "beginner's mind". Once this happens, though, anything is possible. As Brenda Ueland says, "...but do not forget to keep recharging yourself as children do with new thinking called 'inspiration'."
Here is what I've heard from working with adults:
1. Art making gives them a break from their perfectionism. With a small commitment of two hours, adults soon remember how freeing it can be to become absorbed in the process (rather than be so attached to the product).
2. Because art making can be such an absorbing activity, it's a constructive distraction from life's daily challenges. It serves as a form of a mediation. In addition, the act of art making has proved to increase positive emotions, creating a greater sense of well being and personal growth.
3. Art making has been known to improve flow and spontaneity. Practicing an art form on a regular basis has allowed flow and spontaneity to enter other aspects of their lives as well.
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Find the courage to create. Read some short posts here: