Art in all its manifestations constitutes an essential characteristic that identifies the human being, has allowed to transmit the culture in all its extension and has been and is basic for its survival. Our plastic brain needs art. Already in the first years and naturally the child plays, sings, dances, draws and all these activities are essential for their correct sensory development, motor, cognitive, emotional and ultimately brain that will allow you to learn to learn. And doing all these activities the child has fun, proudly shows his results to others, tries to improve and this is an effective way to train one of the great virtues of human beings: self-control. Artistic education is a necessity not because it makes us smarter but because it allows us to acquire a whole series of competences and mental routines that are in full harmony with the social nature of the human being and that are essential for the learning of any curricular content. And this is useful for all students, so it becomes a great way to address diversity in the classroom.
THE ARTISTIC BRAIN
Brain neuroimaging reveals some clues as to why artistic activities are so important. For example, it is known that certain structures of the auditory cortex only respond to musical tones, that an important part of the brain and cerebellum intervenes in the coordination of all kinds of movements, such as in dance, than in theatrical recreations regions Of the brain specialized in oral language that are connected to the limbic system provide us with the emotional component or, related to the visual arts, that our visual processing system generates real or fictitious images with the same ease.
Artistic activity activates different regions cerebral.las visual arts such as painting are processed mainly in the occipital and temporal lobes.
WHY TEACH THE ARTS?
Studies that have analyzed the implementation of art education in the classroom have revealed that the most potent effects are found in those programs that are fully integrated in the subjects of the curriculum and that when this happens multiple benefits related to the learning of the Students and their behavior. Rabkin and Redmond have identified the most significant:
There is a greater emotional involvement of students in the classroom.
Students work more actively and learn from each other.
Cooperative learning groups turn the classes into learning communities.
It facilitates learning in all subjects through the arts.
Teachers collaborate more and have higher expectations about their students.
The curriculum becomes more real by drawing on project learning.
The evaluation is more reflexive and varied.
Families get more involved.
From the neuroeducational perspective, we are especially interested in three essential learning factors that the arts can improve:
In a study with 5th graders (10-11 years old) didactic units related to scientific subjects (astronomy and ecology) were designed following two different procedures: in one the traditional approach was used and in the other the arts were integrated into the unit . Thus, for example, in the second case, the students carried out activities with defined didactic objectives that included theatrical performances, posters, recreation of movements or use of music. The analysis of the results revealed that the students who participated in the didactic unit in which the artistic activities were integrated improved the so-called long-term memory, especially the students with reading difficulties.
In a longitudinal study that lasted three years, it was sought to analyze how the integration of different artistic programs affected the personal development of students aged 9 to 15 who belonged to disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. In the first part of the program it was allowed to choose the students of the experimental group between different artistic forms such as music, painting, video recording, writing scripts or designing masks; In the second one, it was deepened more in the means chosen through a cooperative work; And in the final stage in which all the students intervened, a play was staged and a video was recorded about the school community itself. The three years of application of the program revealed that students improved their artistic and social skills, reduced their emotional problems and, in general, developed more than the control group a series of interpersonal skills such as communication, cooperation or resolution of Conflicts
The arts teach children that real problems often have more than one possible solution, that it is necessary to analyze tasks from different perspectives, that imagination is a powerful guide in resolution processes or that there are not always definite rules when they have to take decisions.
When artistic disciplines are integrated into pedagogical practices, creative and divergent thinking is promoted in students and not only that, but also they develop a deeper thought.
We then discuss relevant aspects of some of the artistic disciplines:
The human brain has developed an extraordinary ability to create internal mental images and even, it has been demonstrated in studies with neuroimaging that the same brain regions are activated when seeing a real scene that when imagining it. This is very interesting, because the visualization is a powerful tool in the processes of memorization.
What can a drawing class bring?
If we asked the students what they learned in the visual arts classes, surely most would respond that they learned to draw, to paint or to represent some graphic. It is logical that in the art classes you learn the corresponding artistic techniques, however, you can learn many more things. Winner and colleagues (2006) have identified eight dispositions (mental routines) that students can develop in visual arts classes and can be transferred to other domains of learning:
Use of tools and materials: students learn the techniques of the discipline using, for example, brushes and pencils or paint and clay.
Participation and perseverance: students learn to commit to the subject through the projects carried out.
Imagination: students learn to visualize and imagine situations that move away from mere observation.
Expression: students learn to transmit a personal vision in their work.
Observation: students learn to use their own look and perceive less obvious details.
Reflection: students learn to explain, justify and evaluate what they do with a critical spirit.
Exploration: students learn to go beyond their creations, take new risks and learn from their mistakes.
Understanding of the artistic world: students learn to relate to art and to understand everything associated with it such as galleries, museums, etc.
It can not be denied that artistic activities are rooted in the very development of the human being since birth and constitute a natural brain reward necessary for learning. Because the practice of any of the artistic manifestations is associated with an emotional component that motivates us and allows us to contemplate the world around us from a different, more aesthetic, more profound perspective. Artistic Education is essential because it allows students to acquire a series of basic socio-emotional skills for their personal development and which, in addition, make them happier. And that is the true learning, which prepares you for life. The human brain, which is a complex organ in continuous restructuring, appreciates the challenges and needs the art.
Jesús C. Guillén