From the Director
Here, at the Flint Institute of Arts, we believe the visual language of art is a powerful tool for increasing learning skills essential for success in life. We see art as a portal to our inner world that can at once represent truth and stimulate imagination. Learning to see by creating art can be the basis for learning the non-cognitive skills of organization, cooperation, problem solving, focus, and refinement. It can also lay the groundwork for developing patience, empathy, perseverance, determination, and respect.
Unlike cognitive skills that educators can measure objectively through testing, these non-cognitive skills are less scientific and often more difficult to measure or assess. As a result, non-cognitive activities have all but disappeared from the classroom curriculum.
For the first time, the U. S. Department of Education has published proposed priorities that acknowledge the important role non-cognitive factors play in students' academic, career, and life outcomes. Early childhood education is their top priority and proposed amendments to Federal financial assistance programs now focus on supporting projects that develop and strengthen students' mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors so that the skills necessary for success in school, career, and life can be more fully developed.
For 86 years, the FIA's mission has been to provide an art-rich environment to support creative development for children and adults. FIA education programs are designed to make meaningful study of the visual arts an essential part of a good education. Today, we provide services in the FIA galleries and studios, and in classrooms, in Genesee County and 10 surrounding counties at little or no cost to the schools. Last year the FIA served more than 24,000 students through its PreK-12 school programs.
The programs we offer address five of the Department of Education's top 15 educational priorities, two of which refer to non-cognitive factors specifically. The FIA's early childhood program, START (Success Through ART), combines looking at and talking about works of art, listening to children's literature, and making art. The program provides students with opportunities to build literacy and develop the math, science, problem solving and visual expression skills they need to be successful. The ARTreach program for grades 3–12 covers Art and STEM concepts through an arts integrated approach by exploring ways science, technology, engineering, and math are related to art.
In addition, we create Family Programs to introduce participants to educational activities available at the FIA and provide skill-building workshops to teach families the skills they need to support learning at home and help children learn beyond school walls. Educator workshops developed by the FIA's education department also provide professional development opportunities to help educators refine teaching skills and learn strategies for integrating the arts into their curriculum.
John B. Henry