Visual Arts
Why Study Art?

The arts have served to connect our imaginations with the history of human existence. Studying civilization and creative expression throughout history and across cultures enables students to experience diversity and is multiculturalism in practice. The arts are a fundamental part of the cultural heritage of every student and as such, enhance the quality of life. They bring joy, enrichment, and fulfillment to every human being (Lehman, 1995). Art allows students to acquire the tools and knowledge necessary to create individual responses to a variety of issues and is essential, not only in understanding life, but in living it fully. According to Summary Statement: Education Reform, Standards, and the Arts,

There is ample evidence that the arts help students develop the attitudes, characteristics, and intellectual skills required to participate effectively in today's society and economy. The arts teach self-discipline, reinforce self-esteem, and foster the thinking skills and creativity so valued in the workplace. They teach the importance of teamwork and cooperation. They demonstrate the direct connection between study, hard work, and high levels of achievement.

Students are shortchanged if we fail to take advantage of what art can accomplish. The teaching of art should be directed to all students, not only the talented. The arts cannot be learned through random or casual experiences any more than math or biology can. The content of the arts consists of skills and knowledge that require a regular and systematic delivery of instruction leading to clearly identified expectations. Art can improve overall abilities in school by providing students with verbal, visual and hands-on learning experiences. A comprehensive art program enhances cognitive development, social skills, self-esteem, and interest in learning while broadening understanding of all subject matter.


Art is a basic component of a complete education. Art experience fosters aesthetic development; the ability to construct, create, decode, and describe. It provides avenues of communication, paves the way for reading, and motivates written expression. Art is a product, a process, and an essential element for creative thought and experience. A comprehensive art program contributes to maintaining a balance of instruction and learning within a school, and in meeting the vast needs and multiple intelligences of a diverse student body. This experience is both a whole unto itself and part of a continuum of creative and intellectual development within the individual. The visual arts serve to meet the developmental needs of the student only when delivered through a sequential, year-long program that builds on the student’s art experience from Pre-K through grade 12. It is intrinsic and crucial.

Art teachers are specialists trained to develop students' reasoning, imagination, dexterity, and intuition. The art teacher specialist facilitates the infusion of critical and creative thinking, so that students will analyze, critique, defend, ask what-if questions, and explore alternative points of view, enabling them to be effective, able, and creative visual communicators. The practicing art specialist or artist/teacher serves as a mentor to students through modeling the processes and skills inherent in the creative process and the skills for success.

Baltimore County Public Schools has a rich history of visual arts education. Formal art programs have been a part of Baltimore County’s curricular programs for over 85 years. The art program has evolved from a program that was primarily product oriented (paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints) to one that emphasizes five standards that aim to develop a visually literate individual. These standards include perceiving and responding, art history, creative production, aesthetic criticism, and productive habits of mind. Instructional experiences are designed to engage students in visual problem solving, decision making, and experimentation with media. Through these experiences, students develop the foundational skills that establish confidence in communicating visually, empowering them to think and respond critically, creatively, and independently. The skills learned in art are transferable skills that enrich and support learning in other curriculum areas.

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