The famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem [he has] is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
This is both encouraging and discouraging: The fact that we were all born to be artists is certainly exciting, and yet the reality has proven that remaining one is a task that many of us have failed.
Fortunately, some people have seen the problem and want to solve it.
Western educators have suggested that we introduce the concept of “STEAM” instead of “STEM” – traditional “core majors” including science, technology, engineering, and math – since the “A”, which stands for “arts”, is just as important.
And on April 11, China’s Ministry of Education issued a guideline. Colleges and universities are required to provide more art-related courses and students need to earn a certain number of art credits in order to graduate.
These efforts came after many scientific studies had found that art education helps students develop self-confidence and teamwork skills, as well as habits of mind such as problem solving and critical thinking, according to The Washington Post.
It’s true that none of these skills target specific jobs. But as former US ballet dancer Damian Woetzel told The Atlantic, the purpose of art is “to give kids the tools to become adults who are creative, adaptable, and expressive – capable of having their eyes and ears and senses alive”.
And we can now see how we lost track of our born “artist self” on our way to growing up: We failed to keep our capabilities to see, hear and feel, and became blind, deaf and insensitive adults.
Hopefully, art education can help turn things around.