10 Lessons the Arts Teach

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.

– See more at: http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/10-lessons-the-arts-teach#sthash.Awz9pto5.dpuf



  1. I like this list of what art teaches. My wife is an artist and my daughter is really into art also. I have noticed when she it tied into electronics (iPad, TV, etc) she loses some of her creativity. We tried an experiment for a month where she didn’t have any TV time and only iPad time was with educational tools or games. Her level of creativity sky rocked and she even wrote and illustrated some of her own books.


    1. I also have a daughter, grown up now. We always limited TV time and made sure we did plenty of discovering and exploring art activities. We also at a young age exposed her to art making on the computer, drawing, computer animation etc. I wanted her to experience all kinds of art media 2-D and 3-D. Amazing how young children get so excited about making art. I taught elementary art for 13 years one of my favorite ways to teach art was using children’s literature. Hands on interactive activities are so important in cultivating creative little minds.
      So cool that your daughter has written and illustrated her own books. What kind books? Did she create her own original characters? What grade is she in?


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