The Fine Art of Creativity in Problem Solving

The cultivation of art subjects at schools creates the necessary balance to enhance performance in other learning areas that require more intense cerebral activity. A holistic approach to art education does not focus solely on technical skills – it helps students to grow creatively and emotionally too.

Research has shown that art education in primary schools plays a valuable role in a child’s development. The Cambridge Primary Art & Design curriculum was created on this premise, giving learners the space to explore and express themselves freely to support the development of social and reflective skills, and encourage teachers to nurture an environment where learners can take risks and build resilience.

The art of problem solving

In the African context of education, the arts are not considered as important as STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. However, studies show that the cultivation of art subjects creates the necessary balance to enhance performance in other learning areas that require more intense cerebral activity.

According to Amy Herman, art historian and author of Fixed: How to Perfect the Fine Art of Problem Solving, art improves problem-solving skills, helping us discover how and why things go wrong, as well as how to fix them.

Art and design nurture creativity in young minds, which supports problem solving in other subjects, including English, Mathematics, Science, Global Perspectives and Computing. Art develops concentration skills and perseverance as children explore different tools and materials, mastering their use to create beautiful objects and designs. These are important skills, necessary to excel in all other subjects.

The free exploration of art tools further supports the development of accurate letter and number formation in English and mathematics. When making models in art, learners have opportunities to explore the properties of materials. They also discover which materials can be joined and learn about their density and weight. This enhances and supports their learning about materials in science.

Teaching creativity in schools

Limitless opportunities through art and design

Since its inception, Cambridge Primary Art & Design was envisaged to create ‘limitless opportunities’, which describes the range of individual and collaborative opportunities we want every learner to be able to identify and explore.

Art & Design provides a platform for all learners to communicate and express themselves, which particularly aids learners who find communication and interaction challenging, including those with autism.

The focus on experimental learning allows learners to develop and challenge their motor skills in ways that are appropriate to their physical abilities. The subject also supports learners with visual impairments by allowing them to touch and manipulate materials with different textures and properties, thereby providing a wide range of sensory opportunities. This has created a safe, supportive, and inclusive space for learners to experiment and develop.

Positive attitudes to creativity

An early introduction to Art & Design helps learners develop positive attitudes to creative thinking and creative subjects, which benefits future learning. The subject encourages them to celebrate their own and others’ artistic experiences. This builds a sense of community in the classroom from an early age and fosters an openness to diversity as they experience art and design from different times and cultures.

Expression through art, therefore, aids emotional development as learners develop skills such as perseverance and collaboration. They are better equipped to deal with criticism positively as they give, receive, and respond to feedback.

Art and creativity go hand-in-hand

The value of creative thinking

Cambridge Primary Art & Design provides opportunities for learners to experience and respond to art and design produced for commercial purposes. Art has a place in day-to-day life which learners get to experience as they see its use in architecture and decoration.

This leads them to appreciate the commercial benefit of art, further amplifying its practicality and financial benefit to artists and the broader economy. If they choose to pursue art later in life, they are better equipped to create value from it.

To best support this invaluable development, it’s important to engage children in art – both at home and at school – and to continue with their creative experience throughout their schooling.