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Why Schools Need to Put the “A” Back in Education

Hillsboro STEAM art education
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If you’re a long-time follower of our Hillsboro-based arts program, you’ll know how much we value the importance of art in the classroom for preschool, elementary and middle school children. Early introduction to art has been shown to help kids develop creativity, imagination and life skills – components that lead to improved personal and professional outcomes. However, there is considerable debate among educators about the ways that art is taught.

Why STEM Is Becoming STEAM

Most people will be familiar with STEM – the integrative teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics within a curriculum. STEM is a vitally important part of a child’s education, and leads to improved cognitive skills, innovation, collaboration – and a strong foundational knowledge base.

Yet this emphasis on STEM has been called out for sidelining art to the detriment of a comprehensive education. To counter this claim, some parties extend the acronym to STEAM, with the “A” standing for a comprehensive arts education.

Does STEAM Solve the Problem of a Lack of Arts Education?

It should be noted that there is far less awareness of STEAM than STEM, and the importance of art literacy and hands-on creativity is frequently misunderstood. Exposure to art projects for elementary school students and other tutorials helps a child build self-confidence, dexterity, creative thinking and much more.

In practice however, art education is often non-existent. And even where STEAM is in place, there is confusion about what an integrated art education even means. Unfortunately, the all-too-common result for children is that there is no clear plan for integrating the fine arts, physical art, expressive arts and other programs into the curriculum.

How Should Art Be Taught in the Classroom?

Debate remains about whether STEAM is the best option, and the effectiveness of integration. Some prefer to separate art from the STEM concept. At Golden Road Arts, we favor a fully-integrated arts education that works alongside science, tech, engineering and math.

However, when you factor in a lack of clarity around the goal of art learning, with a misunderstanding of the critical role it plays in a child’s development – along with the sadly commonplace view that art is not one of the “serious” subjects – then we frequently see art relegated to the role of junior partner in STEM.

One of the reasons why kids need art is because it pushes forward a child’s development and also complements integrated subjects like engineering and mathematics, where creativity and problem-solving are so critical. Ultimately, neglecting art does a disservice to a child’s education – and we remain committed to championing the benefits of art for the children of Oregon.

How We Help Schools and Teachers Add Art in the Classroom

At Golden Road Arts, we create children’s art literacy and instructional lessons for teachers to utilize in the classroom. In addition, we come to schools and teach art in the Hillsboro School District as our schedule allows. We also partner with community organizations to host and create in-person art events within our local Oregon community.

Free Educational Art Lessons From Golden Road Arts

We want to encourage you – schools, teachers and parents – to create an environment that fosters an appreciation of art and the integration of art in classroom assignments, whenever and wherever possible.

Browse our free art lessons here as well as the arts education section for ideas on how to add art into your children’s daily activities. You can also support us by making a donation or buying art online.

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