Art & Critical Thinking in the Classroom
As I promised in my post last month, here is another post inspired by an EdWeb webinar I viewed over the summer. This webinar, Art Builds Critical Thinking, was based on the book Arts and the Creation of Mind by Elliot Eisner, which argues for the value of arts education as a way of developing higher level thinking in young people.
As the presenter spoke about the “four small C’s” (challenge, compare/contrast, connect, and create), the chat box buzzed with educators’ excitement about STEAM, maker spaces, and other creative projects in their schools or libraries. It was a lively and inspiring webinar, and I kept thinking of the new early chapter book series from Paul and Peter Reynolds, Sydney & Simon.
In the first book, the twins have a problem to solve: the flowers in their window box are wilting, and they have no way of watering them when the window gets stuck. Sydney and Simon work together, and seek input from others, to hypothesize and plan solutions that incorporate science and engineering. Along the way, they both use Wonder Journals to record ideas and other notes, including drawings. It is a realistic and inspiring look at the way that art and science both play a role in creative problem solving. In book two, the twins learn about the effect of garbage on the ocean, and they work on creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Together the books make clear that art brings ideas together. “It’s the glue,” the presenter said in the webinar. For Sydney and Simon, art is absolutely the glue that helps them make connections and take their thinking to a higher level. The arts give students an opportunity to generate ideas, plan, persevere, and evaluate, and Sydney and Simon model that process with charm.
I’ll close with the statement from the webinar that stuck out to me the most: “When something is created, something bigger happens.” Now that’s an idea I’d want to be the theme for my classroom or library.
Arts and the Creation of Mind by Elliot Eisner. 9780300105117. 2002. Professional.
Sydney & Simon: Full STEAM Ahead! by Paul Reynolds. 9781580896757. 2014. Gr. 1-4
Sydney & Simon: Go Green! by Paul Reynolds. 9781580896771. October 2015. Gr. 1-4