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Develop Critical Thinking through Art


Study Skills & Tools 21st Century Skills Universal Design for Learning Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Abstract Reasoning

Develop Critical Thinking through Art

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
— Mahatma Gandhi

When students engage with art on a deep level, they develop their imaginative and critical thinking skills in novel and meaningful ways that translate into other academic learning.

How To Apply It!

  1. Expose. Provide opportunities to observe art in the classroom or on a trip to a local museum.
  2. Notice. Have students observe and describe the art using all senses. No detail is too little. Write down their observations. If you bring art into the classroom, give students opportunities to view the work over time so students' observations can progress with each interaction.
  3. Make Connections. Have students think about how the artwork connects to concepts, learned information or experiences they know. Use prompts such as, "This reminds me of..."
  4. Find Patterns. Help students group their observations. Have them categorize observations and discuss patterns within one work of art or between works of art.
  5. Take Perspective. Encourage students to share in an open forum, helping students understand that there is not one answer or way of looking at the art. Art can provoke different reactions in different people. Encourage them to learn from listening as well as sharing.
  6. Reflect. Finish the activity by having students think about how their view of the art changed from their initial reaction to their new perspective based on structured observation and listening to peers.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Guided engagement with art develops skills in observation, pattern analysis and critical thinking that can broadly support their academic learning. Lincoln Center Institute's Capacities for Imaginative Learning provide background on how guided art observation can develop critical thinking skills.