Creativity, Resilience and Wellbeing – in a Nutshell!

Term: 1 Year: 2021

A lot has been written about the benefits of arts education, especially in relation to educating the whole child, nurturing creative and critical thinking, and the development of empathy and compassion, just to mention a few.

This is especially true whenever there is a change the curriculum and the value of arts education is threatened in some way. This dialogue around the importance and value of arts education has been supported tenfold by personal observations of teaching and learning, through and in the visual arts. I have found the primary art program to be a refuge for children who find the expected outcomes and high-stakes testing connected to key learning areas challenging. The artroom is a space that welcomes greater freedom to explore beyond the limits of a more rigid program, the treadmill of evaluating and assessing, and grading to strict standards. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect quality work and a child’s best effort, but the freedom the visual arts offer is a break from this. In the artroom I discourage erasers and encourage children to see what they believe to be a mistake as a ‘beautiful oops’. Students develop resilience when I encourage them to work with a perceived mistake. This helps nurture creativity and they in turn become problem solvers and innovators. Open-ended tasks allow for greater self-expression. Children have multiple opportunities to self-reflect, exploring questions such as, “Who am I?” “How do I feel today?” And, “What do I want others to know about me?” I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard a child say, “I am bad at art.” It is heartbreaking. Developing their belief in their abilities is my mission. With a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement, I have seen even the most despondent young artist show pride in his or her work, smile, dance, applaude and sing, affirming the benefits of visual art practice for childrens’ overall wellbeing, and hopefully encouraging a lifelong love of learning.

I highly recommend the picture book, Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg.

Nicole Burnes
Visual Arts Teacher
Sacred Heart School, Kew