Inviting Creativity: The Teacher's Role in Art

Posted by: Rhonda October 20, 2015

In spite of the fact that art has often been treated as a sideline, educators are coming to realize the long term benefits of encouraging creativity in young children. Many voices are calling out for art to be infused into the STEM curriculum to produce STEAM. However, simply expanding the acronym will not necessarily foster more innovation unless we are willing to change how art is incorporated into our early childhood classrooms.

Art is the “expression of creative skill and imagination.” A bulletin board full of identical cut-and-paste pumpkins, by this definition, does not qualify as “art” and actually squelches creativity. On the other hand, an unstructured art time may also be frustrating and unproductive for many children. Without somewhere solid to spring from, their inspiration cannot gain momentum.

Dr. Robert Schirrmacher proposes a compromise: teachers, acting as facilitators, should provide subtle structure and guidance. For example, the teacher can supply a theme, extend on an existing activity, or suggest a new technique. This provides adequate support while still encouraging spontaneity and experimentation. Read more.