Art Therapy not just a Therapy but another way to Education!


We need people who think with the creative side of their brains— people who have played in a band, who have painted… it enhances symbiotic thinking capabilities, not always thinking in the same paradigm, learning how to kick-start a new idea, or how to get a job done better, less expensively.” –Annette Byrd, GlaxoSmithKline

Since the days I discovered that learning and education, at least for me, could  be fun, the learning curve I chose consisted to try and see for myself all what I had to learn at school, from books, with my parents and from other people.

Let’s call it my “need to learn by myself through my own means of collecting knowledge”. It wasn’t a matter or a trust no-trust issue, it has been my personal way to learn so I could take ownership and better grab the usefulness of these learnings. As a matter of fact I always failed when I had to learn by heart something to the despair of my teachers and, of course my mom and dad!

Lately, I have connected to various professional people specialized for special education needs, among them are art therapist, whether in music, acting, theatre, graphic arts, painting, etc.

My curiosity dragged me from research to research on the web, but could not find a convincing thread of thoughts that would inform me about the relation between arts and therapy. Of course I knew it was an obvious fact that music or any other artistic expression would help, but I needed to learn more and deeper about a person’s behaviour when exposed to arts. I measured this thinking to myself and remembered how I could not stand classical music, until the day I listened to Tchaikovsky’s concerto for piano, it was a love at first sight, and since I discovered classic music and enjoy it since. Maria Callas, Mrs Butterfly made me fall in love (yes again!) with Opera, and the same happened about painting and most graphic arts.

Willing to try before asking questions and learn more about the work therapists do with young people with special needs, I decided to do the experiment and purchased a book about stained glass that contains various sheets for practise and also a book about pencil drawing and sketches.

It is such a fascinating feeling just touching and looking at these books, the drawings and the project of using the material to give life to a blank sheet of drawing paper. I do understand now that it is more a matter of feeling sensations from the mind to the tip of the fingers that have such a soothing effect on my mood but also letting my inner creativity express such emotions. I would add that during such moments I also feel the peace of a surrounding silence that keeps me enjoying such precious time.

It is very disappointing to see how art programs are cut in schools, invoking economics, budgets or lack of funding. If I am not mistaken, early times of education consisted in learning arts, theater, poetry, writing and philosophy. These were replaced with time by math, logics, finance, and other “skills” that promote those buzz expressions of profitability, performance, efficiency, diligence, doing more for less, be productive, and so many more behaviours to serve the new rules of profit making!

Adults are somehow a living contradiction: when young kids are encouraged to discover their artistic gifts, they are asked each year for less discoveries and more to memorize abstract concepts, they have no image to compare to!

Then when they reach high-school a new vocabulary awaits them, the language of what will be their adult life: productivity, performance, profit, work more rest less, do fast, do that do this, the cycle never ends! So yes educating people to learn like recorders will make them fully fit to enter the model of adult’s world!

Art is not just a simple therapy for educational special needs, it is the soul of all knowledge, even science and math are based on arts and the other way is true.

The discovery I am enjoying with artistic activities are refreshing means to connect myself, y emotions and sensitivity as a human to the logical state of today’s world, keeping my humanity at the center of all what I have to receive and provide.

If art programs lack funding or are simply cut from education curriculum, we have no alternative as educators but to engage new pedagogical strategies to add an artistic touch where there is no place for arts. We need to offer our students the best of a humanized education rather than the insensitive structure of regulations and rigid bureaucracy. Learning as educating is the proper of people, people enjoy (normally) teaching and learning having fun, we then know what we need to do start enjoying ourselves the fun of teaching and then let our students feel the fun of learning!

Michel – January 4, 2015

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