The Arts are an Important Education for the Soul

Many students hide deep issues, personal suffering, worry, or strife. For some these are expressed through physical activity, such as their involvement in sports. Other students operate on a more intellectual level and can often only express their anxieties through art or music. In the case of trauma it is even more important that children be allowed to express themselves in this way. Art therapy and music therapy are two ways that children can focus their anxieties in positive ways.

Depending on their age and prior knowledge the student may be able to come up with something on their own or may just find themselves slapping paint on paper, or hitting the sticks on the cymbals. It must be noted that doing these apparently angry actions may not always be an expression of anger, they may be a show of insecurity with the media. An untrained child will not know what to do and will soon become frustrated, but to the other extreme too many rules may make a person who has suffered a trauma feel too constrained.

It is the teachers responsibility to keep the training light, but with direction. By showing somebody how to draw a cube they can draw buildings. By showing somebody a chord on the guitar they can put sounds together. By building their skills the person is able to think on different level, and may use their work to tell a story. The arts, either visual art, or music, are true forms of expression.

Children can, and should, be asked about their work, what it means, and how it makes them feel. They should not be criticized for it being a poor work of art. The person may not have any interest in being an artist or musician, the emphasis must be on fun, and healing.  The most important thing about their art, or music, is what it means to them. 

Another thing a teacher may do is to ask the student about a work of art, or a song, (not their own) that appeals to them. The teacher can ask the student why the piece is so appealing. It must be noted that people who are dealing with depression or suffering from trauma often are drawn to darker pieces, things that relate to their pain. They can be asked if it makes them feel better, or worse. Not all people who listen to the darker music find it depressing, some enjoy that the notion that they are not alone in their experiences, and find it uplifting.

Exposure to the arts allows children to think on more cognitive levels. Going to an art gallery and being asked if they like something will make them think about their own feelings and emotions and should never be discounted as a real part of the learning experience. For many people suffering with internal feelings because of a trauma, or crisis, being more in tune with their own thought process is key to healing.