Here are the “Ten Lessons the Arts Teach” compiled by Elliot Eisner, one of the country’s leading art educators.
The arts teach children to make good judgements about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts it is judgment rather than rules that prevail
The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.
The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving, purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstances and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
The arts make vivid the fact that words do not, in their literal form or number, exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtlety.
The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
The arts help children to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
The arts’ important position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.
Elliot Eisner is a professor in Education and Art at Stanford University in California. This article was published in the Arts in Education Council of BC Newsletter. It was provided by Helen Daniels, Executive Director of the ARC Arts Council and a member of the Board of the Arts in Education Council of BC.