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The Crucial Role of Art in Education: A Guide for Teachers and Parents

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

In the realm of education, the inclusion of art holds far-reaching benefits beyond mere creativity and self-expression. President Kennedy stated, "as a great democratic society, we have a special responsibility to the arts. For art is the great democrat calling forth creative genius from every sector of society." The fusion of artistic endeavors within academic learning has been substantiated by comprehensive research, shedding light on its pivotal role in cognitive development and overall academic success.

Art Class Decline and Its Impact

Studies, including the National Arts Education Status Report of 2019, have highlighted a disconcerting trend: a decline in art class participation among K-12 students. From elementary to high school levels, interest and engagement in art decrease significantly, despite its profound impact on cognitive growth. This trend signifies a missed opportunity to harness the diverse benefits art education offers.

Art as a Cognitive Catalyst

Research findings from studies like "Framing Student Success: Connecting Rigorous Visual Arts, Math, and Literacy Learning," by Dr. Andrea Kantrowitz, underscore the transformative potential of art integration. This study, encompassing 800 students in high-poverty areas, revealed a surprising correlation between integrated art curricula and enhanced academic performance, particularly in math. The emphasis on spatial reasoning through artistic expression demonstrated a link between art and improved mathematical comprehension.

Embodied Cognition and Art

The concept of embodied cognition illuminates the idea that human thought extends beyond the confines of the brain. Art serves as a tool to access embodied cognition, allowing individuals to visualize and express complex thoughts and perceptions that language alone may fail to capture. Drawing, for instance, acts as a conduit for deeper engagement, fostering creativity, and confronting uncertainty.

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Thinking in Art

The notion of top-down and bottom-up thinking illustrates the dichotomy between conscious thought and perceptual processes. Engaging in artistic endeavors, particularly drawing, enables individuals to explore and perceive more than what's initially apparent. This practice encourages a deeper connection to the present moment and cultivates an openness to unexpected insights.

The Imperative Call to Action

Encourage the infusion of craftsmanship and creativity beyond conventional art classes, infusing them into our everyday activities such as crafting, cooking, and construction. Embrace diverse mediums and draw inspiration from nature. Step outside and observe the shapes, colors, and textures that surround you, feeling a surge of inspiration and inner calm. With technology's rise, fine motor skills and manual dexterity in students have dwindled. Integrating art into daily routines promises to unlock a wider spectrum of cognitive, fine motor, and emotional growth, fostering a holistic worldview.

Embracing Art in Education

Understanding the many benefits of art in education serves as a catalyst for change. The integration of art isn't an isolated extracurricular but an essential component of a well-rounded education. It equips students with the tools to navigate complexities, fostering a more enriched and interconnected way of learning.

For teachers and parents, embracing art in education isn't merely about encouraging creativity; it's about nurturing holistic cognitive development and paving the way for academic success across disciplines.

In conclusion, the inclusion of art in education isn't an option but a element for nurturing well-rounded individuals equipped to thrive in an ever-evolving world. To learn more about art and cognition, you can go to

or listen Dr. Kantrowitz's interview on The Brighter Side of Education, Drawing Thought: A Discussion on Art and Cognition with Artist Dr. Andrea Kantrowitz.


Brighter Side of Education. (Producer). (2023, November 16). Drawing Thought: A Discussion on Art and Cognition with Artist Dr. Andrea Kantrowitz (No. 28, Season 2) [Audio podcast episode]. Retrieved from Buzzsprout. (

Cunnington, M., Kantrowitz, A., Harnett, S., & Hill-Ries, A. (2014). Cultivating Common Ground: Integrating Standards-Based Visual Arts, Math, and Literacy in High-Poverty Urban Classrooms. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 10(1).

Morrison, R. B., McCormick, P., Shepherd, J. L., Cirillo, P (2022). National Arts Education Status Report 2019. Arts Education Data Project, Quadrant Research, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education. 

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