Standardized tests can strike fear in the heart of any man – young and old, but ever wonder why? It seems odd that a few questions that require a pencil dot on a Scantron Sheet, can bring forth such stress and emotion. This is especially true for visual-spatial learners whose test results don’t reflect their true intelligence or ability. Testing is designed with a left-brain bias. Linear-thinkers with good short-term memory and deductive thinking skills are much more likely to score well on standardized tests, because they measure the way the left side of the brain works, leaving our right-brain kids at a significant disadvantage.
There is a rather critical matter at hand in education and I want to speak very directly about it. The arts are being eliminated from our schools and testing is on the rise. There is a prevailing notion that we need less of the arts in order to make more time for the subjects that are being tested and for the tests themselves.
This line of thinking actually results in lower test scores and disconnected, discouraged, under-achieving students. Why? Because the arts, the very thing schools want to eliminate, are essential to the majority of the student population; not because art is a fun way to relax or express oneself – but because the arts actually fuel the brain. The majority of the student population are visual-spatial learners that NEED the arts to think effectively.
I love art and kids, so it makes a lot of sense that my business, Young Rembrandts, is all about teaching kids how to do art. In Young Rembrandts, we teach a lot of elementary drawing classes, but I have to say teaching preschool classes is my absolute favorite. I love their enthusiasm and hunger to absorb the world around them – and their skill development is beyond remarkable.
Bringing art to children at an early age has tremendous impact, socially and academically. Look at these ladybug drawings and see what young kids can accomplish with some instruction and encouragement.
Last night I saw my son working on a project for his Motion Graphics class. He is a college student now, studying for a degree in Digital Film and Video Production. Tonight as I looked over his shoulder at his computer screen, I saw a vibrant red rectangle, with golden words moving in and out of position, all to the sound of Morgan Freeman’s voice.
The colorful words and movement were part of a Kinetic Type Project he was working on for class. The words he used were from the movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’.
Last night, my son was in his room working on a project for a college class.
As I said good night to him, I got a peak at what he was working on and was very impressed. As I admired his work I thought about how my active son, that had resisted sitting still for hours of homework as a young child, had grown into a young man, willing to spend hours and hours on visual projects that engaged him.
Take a peak and be encouraged.
This is Herman. He’s a very bright, sweet little nine year-old boy. At home he’s curious, creative, helpful, insightful and an excellent big brother. He’s in second grade and does well in school, but his work doesn’t quite reflect who he is or what he’s really capable of. And yet it’s been hard to say why not.
I was talking to a friend about the HBO movie, Rethinking Dyslexia that aired recently. We had both been very impressed by the movie. I’ve researched and written about dyslexia in relation to being a visual learner, but my friend has first hand experience with a son who is dyslexic. As we talked about Brandon and his learning experiences, I was enormously impressed by the success he’s found in his career because of his perseverance and the ways he learned to make things more visual for himself.