Art as a Fundamental of Learning

Creating art is a fundamental part of how we connect to each other and how we learn. Art offers us the opportunity to communicate in sophisticated ways long before we have the control and fine motor function to write. Small children will squish finger paint or clay between their hands while they create colourful designs. On impulse, they might string buttons and beads and flowers together to create a necklace for a loved one. Give the most active or the shyest child a handful of crayons, chalk, or scissors and paper, and they will surprise you with their creativity.

The skills used to create art relate directly to the development of literacy skills we use as adults. We learn to communicate visually with others. We learn how to share what we experience while at the same time developing spatial awareness, problem solving skills and originality. These skills then aid us in reading, writing, technology use, numeracy, and communicating and working with others. Art involves seeing, interpreting, and discovering suitable mediums that will communicate our surroundings and what is important to us, and it helps us develop life skills at the same time. Creating art connects us through fundamental questions like “Does this look like me?” or “Does this look like what I saw?” or “Is this how I feel?”

Most people recognize the Mona Lisa, a famous painting by Leonardo Di Vinci and can tell you how the image makes them feel or what they think when they see it. If you do an internet image search for the Mona Lisa, you will find hundreds of interpretations of the image that Da Vinci created over 500 years ago. The Mona Lisa can be used as a tool to explain how an adult is feeling or what they are thinking. When you and I look at the same painting, we have an opening to compare and understand each other’s reactions, feelings and experiences.

What was your favourite art as a child? What is your child’s favourite? Is there an image in art or popular culture that you have strong feelings about? Please feel free to share!


Voting Voice

The concept that our vote is our voice is a popular and compelling way of getting people out to vote.  The legitimacy and authority of our government lies in the confidence that it is elected by a majority of the people who live in the community. If there is low voter turnout, it could be argued that the government that is elected does not accurately represent the community it is serving.

In the 2010 civic election in Edmonton only 33.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot. How do we increase this number?

I believe one way is to increase the literacy levels of adults in our community.  In Alberta, 4 in 10 adults do not have the literacy skills to fully participate in our society.  During elections, we read campaign pamphlets, articles in newspapers, and information online and attend forums to help us form our opinions on the issues. For 40% of Albertans who have low literacy levels, acquiring the information to make informed decisions can be a challenge.

I believe that every citizen has the right and the responsibility to participate in the democratic process.  If everyone has the skills to understand the issues and the confidence to participate in the process, we will have a more engaged electorate.

At the Centre we believe that literacy develops in families first.  Parents who are informed on social and political issues and discuss these with their children are demonstrating the importance of having your voice heard. My daughter and I have gone through all the websites of candidates running in our ward and she has helped me decide who I am going to vote for!

There is one action that I think we can all do to support the community – go vote on October 21, 2013.