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The Advantages of Having Fine Arts Classes in High School

by Pamela Woods

The hardest part for students taking a high school fine arts course is leaving the studio and moving on to their next class. Motivated art students are actively engaged in everything from slapping clay on a pottery wheel and skillfully throwing a pot to silk-screening an original design on a T-shirt or designing a campus sculpture garden to exhibit mosaic stepping stones and wood carvings created by working independently or in partnership with peers.

Learning to Collaborate

Working on group fine arts projects like a school mural or campus sculpture garden helps students learn to share and grow through collaboration -- a valuable employment skill. Student learning through shared experiences of discussions, compromises and acceptance of new ideas from others can lead to successful endeavors. Collaborative art-making provides a safe and practical opportunity for students to learn acceptance of different points-of-view, experience student diversity by recognizing contributions from different cultures and grasp how shared success feels from contributing to a job well done.

Stimulating Brain Growth

Students need fresh academic experiences to keep their brains growing and developing new connections that allow information to process more efficiently. Through the use of various art methods and materials, students encounter endless possibilities for their works of art. Creative processes also give students a chance to begin to make choices that become meaningful to them as they develop their own personal style.

Critiquing Skills

The process of having students critique artwork -- their own and that of their classmates -- is essential in art education. Participating in critiques offers students practice in language, recalling prior knowledge, judging challenges and one of the most vital and often underrated skills necessary for success in any endeavor -- listening. Through controlled and supportive art room critiques, students learn about reflection, expression, constructive advice and arguments that are part of an academic skill-set that they can apply in future class discussions or writing assignments that cross over all subject areas.

Student Growth

Many students take a fine arts class in high school as an elective choice to meet the state arts requirement for graduation. For other students, it is the beginning step toward a career in art. For an art student to get into an art college or university, she usually must compile a portfolio of about 12 of her best works for review by an admissions officer at her prospective school. Time spent productively in a high school fine arts class plays a huge role in college admittance, scholarships and internship opportunities.

About the Author

Pamela Woods is a teacher and certified education specialist based in Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts in education and a Doctor of Education from Wayne State University. Woods also earned certifications in university teaching, art education, vocational education, infant mental health and gerontology.

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