The following is a short video demonstrating the impact of automaticity in the development of representational drawing skills. “Acquisition of a new skill is generally associated with a decrease in the need for effortful control over performance, leading to the development of automaticity. Automaticity by definition has been achieved when performance of a primary task is minimally affected by other ongoing tasks.” (Poldrack RA, Sabb FW, Foerde K, Tom SM, Asarnow RF, Bookheimer SY, Knowlton BJ. J Neurosci. 2005)
A significant issue that continues to plague the growth and development of quality arts education is the deficit of quantifiable learning objectives and effective outcome assessment. With increasingly vague parameters and seemingly elusive learning objectives, art programs continue to rely on problematic assertions of collateral contribution to justify their existence. In 2007 the New York Times shed a little more light on this issue:
“We feel we need to change the conversation about the arts in this country,” said Ms. Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College and a senior research associate at Project Zero. “These instrumental arguments are going to doom the arts to failure, because any superintendent is going to say, ‘If the only reason I’m having art is to improve math, let’s just have more math.’ Do we want to therefore say, ‘No singing,’ because singing didn’t lead to spatial improvement?” Ms. Winner added. “You get yourself in a bind there. The arts need to be valued for their own intrinsic reasons. (2007 NY Times article regarding Project Zero.)
If the arts are to remain a viable component of early education, resources need to be made available to educators that demonstrate the development of specific visual arts skills and the effective means by which such skills can be objectively assessed. Visual spatial skills, analysis skills and integration skills can all be effectively developed in the classroom and successfully measured for success. With a theoretically sound process and a rational sequencing of skill building exercises, students can develop a quantifiable synthesis of visual literacy and communication skills that will allow them to successfully interact and contribute to a global environment that is increasingly dependent on visual stimuli. I am hoping that resources like this short video will be a small contribution to this effort.