Art for Special-Needs Students: Building a Philosophical Framework

By Germain, Christa | Arts & Activities, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Art for Special-Needs Students: Building a Philosophical Framework


Germain, Christa, Arts & Activities


Art educators agree everyone benefits from the visual arts. In my years of teaching, I have learned that students with special needs may face many challenges in creating and enjoying art. Potentially, through art, these students can be given a way to communicate to others, have confidence in their own ideas, understand emotions, finish projects, improve their fine-motor skills, problem solve, appreciate the beauty around them, and grow in ways that will empower them throughout their life.

Teachers who want to work more effectively with their special-needs students must begin to build a philosophical framework to assist them in lesson choices, as well as in collecting specific techniques. A useful starting point is the realization that art has relationships with many areas of study. When the visual arts are purposefully and creatively used, they can be beneficial to students in a multitude of directions. Students can and should be learning skills that go beyond individual projects.

Non-art professionals often have valuable insights to give. The art educator should see how the aims of other professionals can coordinate and be mutually supplemental to his or her own goals. A current focus in education is an interdisciplinary approach to lesson planning. Sometimes, in the pursuit of this concept, art is demoted to a lesser vehicle for teaching history, science or math, but it is important to remember that art is an area of study to be valued in its own right. Art benefits students in so many ways that it is inherently interdisciplinary.

The area of special education, for instance, has methods and theories that can be transferred into the art classroom. The most important of these ideas is thinking of each student's needs individually, and not being overly concerned with a student's specific disability label or perceived limitations. Special-education professionals plan activities around improving students' weak areas, as well as providing support to pursue strengths and interests. They have much to teach about designing activities that accommodate a blend of higher- to lower-level skills.

The occupational therapist is an especially good resource for the art teacher, giving insights on the progression of skill steps necessary to successfully manipulate scissors, pencils, brushes, etc. These professionals can provide teachers with methods for improving students' physical abilities, which helps their creative expressiveness. This helps the art educator structure lessons to take into account the sequence of physical skills needed for a project.

When considering adapting methods and theories from another discipline into the art classroom, reflect on the purpose of the outcome. For example, art can be therapeutic, but the intent in the art classroom is not for "therapy" with children. Noticing factors such as developmental level and emotional stability, however, will help the teacher meet students' particular needs by creating a better fit between the physical skills, mental level and interests of these students. This results in a greater level of expression and creativity within art, delivering a therapeutic benefit to the individual.

Part of a teacher's philosophy is found as the teacher expands his or her own teaching theory to the special circumstances they encounter with their students. For example, do they normally stress art production, creative expression or discipline-based art lessons? How do these preferences relate to their actual students? What are these students' specific needs and is the current basic curriculum best meeting the situations of these students?

Each class and individual student is unique. Art teachers should ponder who the students are and their particular needs each time they begin working with a group of students. Will these students nave a hard time discussing their artwork because they have difficulty communicating? Do they need to improve their fine-motor skills and which activities will best facilitate this goal? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Art for Special-Needs Students: Building a Philosophical Framework
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.