“The benefits of the visual arts are lifelong. Visual art does not have boundaries. It enables people to play with materials, to express their thinking, to problem solve and make sense of emotions,” says Dr Lindsay, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Wollongong’s School of Education, “Art makes us resilient, it is great for problem solving and understanding the world. It helps us develop our creativity across every aspect of our lives.”

Innovative thinking

As we head into a new era of technological development, with advances in Artificial Inteligence, robotics and other various science-based wonders, it would be a mistake to dismiss the human element in education. Arts education – across all creative fields – visual arts, performing arts and music – all contribute to the development of innovative thinking.

We are at a precipice. At the moment AI is functioning on what we have and can input into a dataset. It is not functionally sentient. It is interpreting human content, rearranging, and presenting it back to us. It is not creating something completely new and unique. It is an amalgam of human achievement. Once AI and quantum computing become both prevalent and stable, these systems will be self-sustaining, and the space left for humans will be in creative innovation.

The creative element of new endeavor remains the domain of people. Skills for the future of humanity, and future economic participation are deeply rooted in arts education.

NAAE (National Advocates for Arts Education) advocates for the inclusion of Arts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to create STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in order to better prepare students for the future. We don’t know what the jobs of the future will look like. Many jobs that exist today were unheard of 40 years ago. A diverse and thorough education gives our children the best possible foundation for the future. While specialization is important, a strong foundation provided necessary skills for future learning.

Transdisciplinary engagement

Skills from Arts education, and their outcomes are important for transdisciplinary engagement – from critical and creative thinking to communication with collaboration and teamwork. One example of this is science communicators. Interfacing between science, media and the community requires a skillset that is not found solely in STEM education. Communication and teamwork skills are intrinsic to a school drama class. Should a student be exposed to both STEM and Arts learning, there is the opportunity to engage and understand interpersonal creative learning.

We also should not think that creativity is limited to the arts. An engineer without creativity is unable to ideate to develop, design and build a bridge. We should not underestimate the amount of creativity across all STEM disciplines. By also being exposed to Arts education, we encourage people to experiment and grow, skills which can then be applied to all aspects of life and learning.

Enriching lives

Aside from flexible career skills, arts education also benefits people in everyday life. A willingness to experiment and problem solve is vital to many aspects of life, from organizing your household, cooking delicious food, communicating with friends and family or even developing fulfilling hobbies.

As mental health is becoming better understood, the balance arts provide for some is invaluable. The arts cultivate empathy, cultural understanding, and creative thinking, fostering well-being, empowerment, and a deeper appreciation of the human experience.

Benefits of arts exposure is not limited to individuals, as engagement with public arts projects creates a sense of belonging and community. Art nurtures and enhances problem-solving skills, and encourages innovation. Perhaps bringing people together to spark new business or social enterprise.

A more colourful, creative life experience

Irrespective of whether a student goes on to practice art as an element of their career, learning the fundamental skills associated with the arts is beneficial in all aspects of life, both working and personal. Lifelong learning of any kind enriches and enhances experiences not only in the direct area of study, but across all aspects of human experience.

Cover image by Alexander Ant / Unsplash