Arts Education: Learning How to See

January 14, 2015 8:55 PM

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I grew up as a creative person in a small, industrial, Midwestern community. It's a region not unlike many others in the country, where practical vocations and athletic prowess are encouraged and rewarded -- leaving little room for (and even less understanding of) artistic pursuits. And yet, by some grand stroke of luck, that salt-of-the-earth, ag-centric town also had numerous exceptional creative institutions (thanks in part to the neighboring university). Those local artistic outlets, and the education they afforded, gave me the physical and mental space not only to distract myself from the farms and football games -- but to reimagine my life.

Jessica Hoffman Davis, founder of the Arts in Education program at Harvard, argues that art teaches us "how to see" and imagine: "The human ability to imagine is inborn, but this precious capacity is fragile -- ready to nurture or ignore throughout our children's education."

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