10 Lessons the Arts Teach

At Art Buddies, we use the power of creativity, self-expression through artistic methods, and one-on-one mentoring to change children’s lives. The significant impact of the kind of arts learning provided by Art Buddies is highlighted here by the late Elliot Eisner, acclaimed professor of Art and Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education:

  1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

  2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

  3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

  4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

  5. The arts make vivid that fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

  6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.

  7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

  8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

  9. The arts enable use to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

  10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.

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Unlocking confidence through Art Buddies

Written by Brookley Wofford

The arts – painting, crafting, music, drama, dance, etc. – arm kids with the ability to overcome challenges, express themselves and unlock confidence. When I discovered Art Buddies over two years ago, it brought me back to my days as a student. I was inattentive, lacked the ability to concentrate on things most kids find exciting, and found school deeply frustrating. My undiagnosed learning disability caused my self-esteem to plummet, and I began to shy away from engaging with peers.

After receiving an ADHD diagnosis in elementary school, a teacher recommended I add art classes to my curriculum and join after-school programs that focused on creative expression. The arts – being the intellectual disciplines they are – required complex problem solving that gave me the opportunity to construct my own method of soaking up knowledge. Finding a new sense of self-worth through drama clubs, painting classes, and ballet allowed my confidence to soar. I began to excel in school and my social life blossomed.

As an Art Buddies mentor, member of the Advisory Board and chair of the Communications Committee, I have seen firsthand how after-school programs such as Art Buddies continue to be a vital part of our school systems. While piles of fabric swatches, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners, paintbrushes and cardboard may seem like random supplies meant to simply keep students busy, to kids involved in programs like Art Buddies, those supplies mean much more.

Oftentimes children with learning disabilities are made to feel incapable of learning within a normal classroom setting. Since self-worth plays a critical role in the learning process, tools kids use in programs like Art Buddies help open the world of learning to kids who may have trouble with traditional teaching methods. Some students may be failing in math or history, but a completed costume at the end of an Art Buddies semester represents their newly found skills, self-expression, success, and confidence.

As an elementary student struggling to find a reason to care about school, with no interest in gaining friends, there is no way I could have fathomed how the arts would catapult me into the confident, outgoing, and successful adult I am today.

I graduated with honors in both high school and college, was crowned Miss Mississippi International 2012, had the confidence to move over 1,200 miles from the place I deemed home in order to pursue my dream career, and was recently named Miss Twin Cities United States 2015. Those achievements are minimal compared to the fulfillment I have working with Art Buddies.

I am honored to be a part of an organization that exposes students to the arts at an early age – without limitation based on their background, family income level, or learning preference. The arts – and the benefits they provide – should continue to be made a part of each child’s educational path as they begin their journey into the real world.

If you would like to help Art Buddies continue to unlock confidence through the arts, and help children build dreams, visit Art Buddies online or subscribe to learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities.

From 'The Importance of The Creative Arts for Children and Teens'

This inspiring article from Parenting Today from Child Development Institute reinforces the important work of Art Buddies, and the real impact our creative mentors have on the kids we serve.

The article states, in a ten-year national study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, it was discovered that young people who are involved in highly effective non-school arts-based community programs in under-resourced communities, in comparison with a national sample of students were:

  • 4x more likely to win an academic award, such as being on the honor roll.

  • 8x times more likely to receive a community service award.

  • 3x more likely to win a school attendance award.

  • 4x more likely to participate in a math or science fair.

  • Likely to score higher on their SAT college admission test scores if they have been involved for more than four years of after-school arts study.

Read more:

Art Buddies accepts mentor applications ever fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at



Art Buddies: Revealing the Promise of Creative Young Minds

  Written by Mike Lescarbeau, CEO of Carmichael Lynch

I became an ad agency CEO by first being a creative director. I became a creative director by first being a copywriter. I became a copywriter by first being utterly hopeless.

Hopeless was what a kid was, back in the seventies, when he couldn’t maintain a train of thought through even the simplest math problem, when he always left his dress shoes on the bus, when he could never remember whether the ball would be hiked on one, two or three.

Today, kids with severe attention problems like mine are often diagnosed right out of the gate, but even with help, it’s no less disheartening to know that what’s easy for other kids might pose a lifetime of challenges for you.

That’s why I’m so pleased and proud that my company supports Art Buddies.

Through Art Buddies, kids meet and work with creative people who, like me, have turned their innately undisciplined ways of thinking into careers that reward creativity. Over the course of an eight-week project, they're able to see, many for the first time, that when their mind wanders, it might be worthwhile to follow it.

In today’s environment of standardized school testing, we hear a lot about the outsized emphasis being placed on rote learning. But who is testing for the ability to generate fifty ad campaign ideas on a three-day deadline? Which little bubble do you fill in to indicate your feel for the right color palette, or the proper pace of a film edit?

When I was young and struggling with school, I didn’t know that creativity would become my salvation. I went many disheartening years before finding out that the very thing that made coursework a challenge might be my greatest asset when it came to succeeding at a career. Fortunately, thanks to twenty years of Art Buddies, over 2000 kids (and counting) have been able to make that joyful discovery without waiting quite so long.


Art Buddies accepts mentor applications ever fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at