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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


How an Arts Education Can Aid in the Cognitive and Emotional Development of a Child

Jonathan Weisbart.

Currently, there is a strong focus on reading and math in schools with the other academic areas being placed on the side, including the arts. California’s 2001/2002 education budget included cuts in the arts (Groves, 2001). Education bureaucrats are pushing for intense reading instruction beginning in kindergarten whether the children are developmentally ready or not. Are the arts being cast aside to the detriment of the children? Is art education considered an extra, just more playtime away from academics?
From a constructivist point of view, children need to interact with their environment to create meaning of the world around them. If you ask a child to draw a dog, he will draw a picture of a dog from his own internal perception. It is not a photograph of a dog, but a representation of the child’s concept of a dog. There is a tremendous difference between asking the child to say what they see (i.e. “I see a dog.”) and drawing a dog. I am interested in finding a connection between the creation of art, the viewing of art, and cognitive and emotional development. Does the abstractness of art aid the child in representing internal thoughts?
There is also the question of multiple intelligences. If there is no art education, how can educators foster spatial and kinesthetic learners? I am concerned that the absence of the arts is having a negative effect on children with different learning modalities and an underdevelopment of one or more of their intelligences.
In this paper, I will be exploring the impact of art education on cognitive and emotional development in relation to the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gardner. I will also review the creation of modern kindergarten, which lays the foundation for the importance of art education.


Jonathan Weisbart  (United States)
Elementary Teacher
Malabar Street Elementary
Los Angeles Unified School District

Jonathan Weisbart teaches at an innercity elementary school. He received a Master of Arts in Child and Adolescent Literacy from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

  • Arts
  • Constructivist
  • Multiple-intelligences
  • Kindergarten
  • Cognitive
  • Emotional

(30 min Conference Paper, English)