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What is the Purpose of Art 1 Class?

What is the Purpose of Art 1 class?  "what does art 1 teach?"

What is the purpose of Art 1 class?

I believe Art 1 is all about teaching how to make mistakes. As the teacher, we know it’s not all about mastering the art skills, techniques, and media – it’s  actually about embracing the beauty of making mistakes.  Sure, not many of our budding artists will end up on the professional gallery circuit, but that’s not the point.  

We’re in the business of building confidence, nurturing creativity, and fostering problem-solving skills that extend well beyond the canvas.  Creativity and problem solving skills will HOPEFULLY translate over to every area of their lives! Wow! What an important job!

I have taught Art 1 for 15.5 years now. Since we are on block schedule, that means I have had 31 semesters of Art 1 and some semesters I’ve had 3 classes of it each day! That’s a LOT of teaching experience for less than 16 years! It’s been a rollercoaster of stepped-on oil pastels, penis drawings, stabbed erasers, and Sharpie marker tragedies, and let me tell you, it’s been nothing short of a wild ride!

If you’ve taught it, you know Art 1 class is generally crazy, colorful and full of chaos!  So why do we do it to ourselves?? What is the purpose of art 1 class?  As an Art 1 teacher, we teach students to think creatively, to see there is more than one correct answer to a problem, to collaborate with others to solve problems and how to communicate visually.

We are teaching them to think “outside the box” and coaxing them to come out of their little cozy comfort zones to create products they are proud of and to achieve things they didn’t think they could do! Art 1 teaches students the type of creative risk-taking we need in the world for our future generations solving problems like climate change, health care, infrastructure, mental health issues, gun control/school violence issues, AI issues, economical and political problems, etc., etc., etc., that we are facing in the world ahead.

When those eager hands pick up a paintbrush, pencil, or even a rebellious Sharpie marker, they’re not just delving into the elements of art and principles of design.  Nope, they’re stepping into a realm where every stroke is a step toward self-discovery. Art 1 is not a mere class; it’s a sanctuary where mistakes are not only allowed but celebrated. It’s about teaching our students that they can stumble and fall, yet rise again, armed with the power to turn errors into triumphs.

Each assignment they receive is a PROBLEM and they get the chance to come up with their OWN creative solution to that problem. They learn how to communicate visually through sketches and planning and then turn that plan into something real and tangible!

As an Art 1 teacher, our MOST essential task is explaining the “why” at the beginning of the course. We need to explain the purpose of art 1 class to them! We’re not just here to impart artistic knowledge; we’re here to lay the foundation for a mindset that will serve them well beyond the classroom.

And how do we kickstart this odyssey into the world of creativity? Well, that’s a tale for another day – a sneak peek into the Art 1 series that promises insights into the craziness of this beginning art class for high schoolers.

This post has been a part of a series of posts I plan to write about Art 1.   I’ll be writing about how I start teaching Art 1 at the beginning of each new semester and the Scope and Sequence that I cover. I hope you find it helpful! Let me know in the comments! What else is important about Art 1?

Looking for more?  I found this article from The Art of Ed very interesting on a similar topic.  They asked teachers and students the question, “What is the purpose of Art 1 class?” and compiled their answers.

Here are my other posts about Art 1:


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Hi, I’m Erin!

I’ve been a high school art teacher at a rural school in WV for the past 14 years. I teach Art 1, AP Art + Design, Art 2 and 3. 
I’m a little obsessed with my sweet husband. Together we have FOUR kids and a rescue dog named Boomer! 
I love a bad pun and terrible dad jokes. I spend time looking at MBTI memes, cooking, listening to serial killer podcasts and Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. I also teach yoga and indoor cycling. Click the button below to learn more about me. 

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