What does Art Education mean to you?

Art Education means different things to different people.

I believe that art education is an opportunity to nurture children to find truth through imagination, effort, collaboration, and cultural literacy. 

Way back when, the field of arts education grabbed me with my passion for making things, and kept me engaged as I learned more about artists, their studios, children’s art, street art, art history, tinkering, creativity, museum education, interactive learning, project-based learning, and supporting the naturally-given creativity in children before it’s taught out of them.

Fresh out of graduate school, I talked about my goal of bringing the arts to youth, one way or another, and this is a goal is still stand by today.Whether I’m training docents as a museum educator, teaching in a classroom, or writing an arts-based blog, I aim to bring the arts to children, one way or another.

What does Art Education mean to you? Parents chime in | TinkerLab.com

So today, I ask you a question that doesn’t have a concrete answer: What does Art Education mean to you? We all have different answers, as you’ll see in the responses that follow.

Before you read them, though, will you do me a favor and write down your own response to this question? Once you’ve done that, read on, and then add your response in the comments.

The other day I put this question out to my Facebook fan page, and the variety of responses is so interesting. I tried to break the responses down into some meaty categories, but of course this is hard to do well. See what you think…

What does Art Education mean to you?

Art Education is a Universal Truth

Art cannot be taught. It is learned. It is discovered. – Gep

I think art education is vital. Art CAN be taught. Furthermore, it should be taught. So much of life requires creativity. Not just as an artist, but as a business person, a scientist, an engineer…creative thinking is crucial! The arts are always the first thing to be cut from schools struggling financially which always breaks my heart. Yes, we can show our kids how to do all sorts of things, but learning about art, artists and techniques is SO important. This education leads to new discoveries about ones self and about the world. – Maria

Just the simple appreciation of the world around us. Everything is art from the way we express our feelings to a loved one to the way we order lines on a page. – Louise

Exploration, exposure, history and appreciation of supplies, techniques and those who have gone before. All people, children and adults, do not get enough exposure in life. – Liberty

Art IS Education – through the arts one develops the skills necessary to suceed in life – communication, problem-solving, decision-making, mathematical reasoning, focus, cross – cultural awareness. . . – Karin

It meant the world to me. Was my strong point that sparked all my other interests. – Lydia

That is just a title, a formality if you will. Art is learned and discovered. I educate through art. – Amanda

Families and art are the base of any society. To enable people to explore the arts, to develop skills needed to express themselves artistically and to ensure they have the resources needed for artistic practice / expression is vital for the health of individuals and society. Art education to me is about supporting individuals to develop artistically for the benefit of themselves and society. Unfortunately however, often I think what is called art education is not that at all or is poorly undertaken & / or resourced. – Fatina

Art Education is a School Value

Teaching about art periods and styles, techniques and masters at a minimum. – Katie

For me it conjures up feelings of being told what I’m supposed to think and feel about art regardless of whether its actually how I think or feel. Chalk it up to one terrible woman in high school, the “art educator”. I much prefer just plain art and the freedoms that come with it. – Meghanne

I wish my sons teacher knew. I’m sending my son to have art sessions with my gorgeous friend (once an art teacher), who has now opened her dream art studio! – Annie

You learn about the greats, while learning techniques and processes in combination with a content; not an end, but a means to and end. Combined art and content. – Breanna

Regular life drawing sessions. – Karen

Something too easily cut from schools –  Jamie Lynn

Tools for creativity in every subject — foundation for every aspect of life! – Susan

T to the P: learning to the trust their process. – Leah

Art Education is Beauty

Tasteful things done tastefully. – Karen

Art Education is Imagination

My first thought was balloons filled with paint and darts….its creative and messy and can be anything you imagine  just like life – Crystal

Creativity…. – Fely

Art Education is Emotion-driven

Feelings. Looking outside the square. Expressiveness. Getting in touch with your inner soul and outer world. – Elisa

The development and expression of the soul. – Kath

Your turn: Don’t forget to add your definition in a comment below. And if you’re an arts advocate like me, you’ll enjoy more definitions of art education via Performing Arts Convention.


  1. Take children to museums and installations…and say nothing.
    Give them art supplies…and say nothing.
    If you do anything at all, let them see you looking closely at the art you like, not what people say you should. Be sure also to look at the art you find challenging to understand. If you don’t like it think about why, but don’t say it aloud. Don’t press the student for answers either.
    If you do anything at all, try out some techniques you would like to try, and do some you already know you do well.
    Be ready to look and to listen. No need to babble on and on. There is no need for “quality instruction” just quantity.
    Most art education is crafting (which is great in its own right) and art history. I think true creativity can be pushed down out of sight in a typical school setting.

    • Taffy, I agree with you 100%! It’s so important to encourage children to trust their own ideas and develop a keep understanding of their own interpretations of the world around them. Do you know about VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies)? If not, I think you would appreciate how it prompts children to look carefully and come up with their own ideas.

  2. Teaching art means building a civilization.
    Digging deep inside and exploring the human brain, showing feelings, expressing ideas, exchanging creativity, having fun,relaxing, enjoying the beauty of scenes, sounds and all the senses.
    This is art.

    • Wonderful! Art education is a whole-person endeavor, isn’t it? And this is why it’s so hard to pinpoint it in one sentence!

  3. Art education is all about giving opportunities to people, whether children or adults, to be creative. I think everyone has a drive to create and explore within our world. And art is a very satisfying method to do those things.

    • Danielle, thank you for including “creativity” in there. So often art education veers too strongly toward crafts and technique, and it should have a healthy dose of wild imagination as well.

  4. Taking kids on a journey from process only art to learning about more sophisticated media, to learning certain skills to learning that you can do so much more that you thought you could to learning to express it all with the media and skills you learned.

    • It’s an entire journey and spectrum of possibilities, isn’t it? Thank you, Faigie.

  5. Art Education…
    what does it mean, to me?
    – Endless possibilities.
    – An avenue of discovery, at any age.
    – The ultimate search for truth,
    – The fundamental means to know and
    understand what sometimes cannot
    be expressed in words.
    – The truest essence of the human spirit.

    • It’s the qualitative and the intangible. Thank you for this beautiful definition.

  6. I am a French teacher, and I believe an “art” education is one that challenges the student (and teacher) to look at things from a creative perspective. Be it math, science, languages or drawing, we must all learn the basic skills, learn what they mean and how they can be used, then CREATE. That is an art-ful education to me! I come by way of Eden Clare, a most creative educator! Anita

    • Hi Anita,
      I’m so glad that Eden Clare sent you our way. So many of our education systems and schools have moved toward separating the disciplines into silos, and your definition is a great reminder of how art is embedded in everything we do. We can think creatively as scientist and artfully in engineering. Thanks for chiming in.

  7. I saw a documentary on Wayne White recently and he said it perfectly describing his college education. He discovered art and creativity could be a lifestyle. Art education to me is applying and learning creative and critical thinking to everything you do. Art education reminds me to keep learning, asking questions, applying ideas and showing my children we are all in this together!!

    • Thanks for bringing that documentary to my attention — I haven’t heard of it and look forward to checking it out. Art and creativity are a lifestyle! Yes — so true. Taking our curiosity, problem solving, careful looking, and making on the road of our experience is the only way to travel.

  8. Art education is giving students the tools to explore their brand of creativity. These tools run the gamut from media (paint, crayons, paper, …) to art history. Exposure is key. I’d like to share a favorite quote (don’t know who said it) “I’m not creative like you. I”m creative like me.” I think schools gradually quash childrens’ creative instincts by encouraging ‘cookie cutter’ art.

  9. Art Education to me means providing my students with the map to aide their journey of imagination.

  10. ART education is not about how well you paint or how well you draw. It’s the process of brainstorming, inventing, creating, problem solving, troubleshooting, decision making, storytelling, reflecting. It’s for everyone. It’s for the community.

  11. I have taught Art for three years and I have witnessed that the way the Art teacher give the material it makes great difference I have been creative in dealing with my lessons in Art as I have taught children loving colors as color day outside class rooms Art is fun Art is adding taste and culture to children Rowayda Gedeon

  12. I think art education is vital. Art CAN be taught. Furthermore, it should be taught. So much of life requires creativity.

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