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Gaining Depth of Discovery through Art

Gaining Depth of Discovery through Art
Gwen Shangle, Assistant Head of School

"What the hand does, the mind remembers." - Dr. Maria Montessori

This week, Gladwyne Montessori’s lobby is full of vibrant colors! Stunning optical illusions created by Upper Elementary students wonderfully compliment delightful puff-paint ice cream cones made by Primary students. Further down the hallway, linear Piet Mondrian-inspired compositions created by Primary students are paired with beautiful hearts created by Lower Elementary students. This collage gradually transitions into artwork along the Primary corridor depicting continent and solar system research!

Art plays an important role in Montessori education because it provides children with the tools, skills and freedom needed to express things that they have learned in an open-ended way. Unlike core Montessori materials found in the classroom, Art does not include control of error. Because of this, teachers are able to observe and assess each child’s understanding of the lesson in unique ways based on the artwork they create.

Studies show that boundaries around any assignment stifle creativity. Even within a Montessori classroom, assignments have direct aims and desired outcomes. Children often do not think of artwork as academic work. As such, they often feel less pressure than with language-based work. With Art, they demonstrate an increased willingness to take risk with what they are producing. Their creativity shines in new ways as they discover interconnections with other subject areas!

Lyn Morris, Gladwyne Montessori's Art Instructor, understands what each student needs to grasp key artistic techniques. Students learn how to use tools and develop skills which they can put to use even if they do not have a natural affinity for art. Students learn, for instance, what type of brush to use to accomplish a certain effect when painting or how paint colors can blend together.

Many of our students have found a real affinity and talent for art. It is such a joy to witness the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with their creations, especially for those students who may not approach other academic areas with such ease! For these children, art class and art extensions play a critical role in building self-confidence and self-esteem. While many children enjoy art, some, of course do not. However, these children often do enjoy art when their work relates to areas of interest, such as dinosaurs or the solar system. Tying interests into art projects gives these students the opportunity to practice skills and techniques that they can draw on when they need to communicate their ideas visually.

As we look to the future and our upcoming continued work on our campus enhancement project, we are eager to see our art program grow, as we expand our existing makerspace and art room into a 1,600 square foot visual and industrial arts center that will include gallery space for our students’ creations!

We look forward to seeing even more of our students’ creativity and artistic talent shine in the weeks and months ahead!

 - Gwen Shangle, Assistant Head of School
Gladwyne Montessori

  • Kindergarten
  • elementary
  • montessori
  • primary