All middle school students should absolutely love art. Later in life, conforming to all sorts of expectations may hinder creative thinking, but 12, 13, and 14 year olds have pique access. They’re aware of the world, they feel empowered to express opinions, they find joy in imagination, and they take pride in creative expression. Art class is a safe zone for all points to merge. By letting paintings trigger ideas, by discovering sculptures encourage new perspectives and by finding creative problem solving helps to overcome challenges, students’ fill their tool boxes for life. A Sharpie in hand teaches a child to see. An inspiring prompt opens worlds of wonder. Most students will not pursue professional fine art careers, but early love may trigger lifelong enthusiasm. It may stoke interest in collecting, art may inspire travel and it may propel all sorts of discovery from outside-of-the-box visionaries.
Middle school children will continue using principles and elements of design for constructing online content, for developing personal and business personas, and for making endless daily aesthetic decisions. Understanding art and design requires foundation skills, training, and hard work. Nevertheless, one step inside the art room should feel like entry into an exciting parallel world, where imagination and (semi) free expression join together with materials and techniques to empower kids to thrive.