Importance of Art Education 


 Imagination in the Lives of Students

"No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination."
~Edward Hopper

Stained Glass
Grade 10 

Self-Portrait Painting
Grade 2

Grade 10 

Chalk Drawing
Grade 2

Tempera Paint
Grade 9 


Landscape Painting
Grade 1 


Oil Pastel Landscape 
Grade 12

Personality Mask
Grade 5

Color Mosaic
Grade 7 

Personal Development


  • Helps us process what we feel and think about the world and our place in it.  Reflecting on experiences that have shaped our identity empower us to reach consciousness.

  • Increases imagination, creativity, innovation, improvisation and wonder; breaking habit and opening doors to new alternatives of perception

“To tap into imagination is to become able to break with what is supposedly fixed and finished, objectively and independently real.  It is to see beyond what the imaginer has called normal…to carve out new orders in experience” (Greene, 1995, p.19).

  • Aides in developing self-confidence by engaging the students in their learning process from multiple entry points

  • Gives opportunities for self-expression when words alone do not express our thoughts and feelings

  • Teaches self-discipline by learning to take risks, working through problems and arriving at multiple solutions to complete a project, fostering intrinsic rewards  
  • Through critique and education, students can better interpret the abundance of images found in the visual culture of our society

  • Educates the whole child

“Children respond to educational situations not only intellectually, but emotionally and socially as well.  To neglect the social and emotional aspects of their development, to focus all our attention on measured academic performance, is to blind these youngsters’ needs to live a satisfying life” (Eisner, 2001, p.16).

Academic Development


  • Helps develop higher order thinking skills and enhances cognitive development of posing problems, analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting symbols

  • Improves spatial reasoning: the ability to organize and sequence, and conditional reasoning: ability to theorize about outcomes and consequences

  • Builds personal motivation by encouraging students to use their senses and emotions in the process of learning while exploring a variety of  learning styles

“…if the young were enabled to identify alternative possibilities and to choose themselves in accord with what they thought preferable, they might have reasons for wanting to learn on their own initiative, reasons to investigate whether the world is as predefined as it has been made to seem.”  (Greene, 1995, p.177)

  • Emphasizes forming judgments and opinions as opposed to accepting rules and truths

  • Encourages creative thinking, flexibility, originality, and problem solving, all skills important in later careers

Social Development


  • Is a universal language

  • Connects students with their peers through personal growth and cooperative learning experiences


  • Can illuminate shared experiences and foster interconnectedness, inspiring students to contribute and develop their voice

“The young can be empowered to view themselves as conscious reflective namers and speakers if their particular standpoints are acknowledged, if interpretive dialogues are encouraged, if interrogation is kept alive" (Greene, 1995, p.57).


  • Cultivates dialogue where students can imagine alternative realities and possible solutions to injustices
  • Develops tolerance, collaboration, and awareness of multiple perspectives providing experiences in conflict resolution, empathy and compassion

“Encounters with the arts and activities in the domains of art can nurture the growth of persons who will reach out to one another as they seek clearings in their experience and try to be more ardently in the world.” (Greene, 1995, p.132)

  • Gives opportunities to explore cultures, times and experiences other than our own.  It is from this awareness that change emerges.

“To help the diverse students we know articulate their stories is not only to help them pursue the meanings of their lives- to find out how things are happening and to keep posing questions about the why.  It is to move them to learn new things.”  (Greene, 1995, p.165)

Final Thoughts

“…the purpose of art education is not to educate people about only the technical and formal qualities of artifacts but to extend the meaning of those qualities and artifacts to show their importance in human existence.” (Freedman, 2000, p.324)

“At the very least, participatory involvement with the many forms of art can enable us to see more in our experience, to hear more on normally unheard frequencies, to become conscious of what daily routines have obscured.”  (Greene, 1995, p.123)


Greene, M.  (1995).  Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Elliot Eisner, (2001) Back to whole, Educational Leadership 63(1), 14-18.

Freedman, K. (2000). Social perspectives on art education in the U.S.: Teaching visual culture in a democracy. Studies in Art Education (41)4, 314-329.

Jensen, E. (2001). The science of the arts. Principal Leadership, 2(3), 10-16.

Turner, E. (2006, October). The arts: Leading the way to academic improvement. Retrieved May 4, 2007, from