Teachers in the Fine Arts Department would probably say that art is at the center of their classes. But do teachers in other fields of study also see art as essential in the classroom? Math and Psychology are generally portrayed as opposites on the school subject spectrum, but interviews with teachers in these areas reveal that their views on aesthetics in the classroom are remarkably similar.
Ms. Clifford, a high school math teacher here at ISM, says that making the classroom aesthetically pleasing is important because it creates a relaxed environment in which a student can learn. This kind of relaxed environment works well because having lower stress levels improves health as well as the student’s grades. However, Ms. Clifford also admits that too much artsiness in a classroom can be overly busy and distracting. As a math teacher, she knows that representing mathematical concepts in multiple ways, including visual representation such as graphs, charts, and design, is crucial to her students’ quick and painless understanding.
Psychology teacher Ms. Beetson has similar views on classroom aesthetics. “I think it is important that things look beautiful and people take notice of what is beautiful around them,” she stated in an interview. “[Beauty] has an effect on people’s feelings and well-being.” She agrees with Ms. Clifford in that the way the classroom feels via aesthetics has an impact on how students think about the class and how they feel about attending it. If a student enters a room and does not feel comfortable or happy he cannot maintain the positive mentality required for learning. Ms. Beetson, highlighting her knowledge of human psychology, uses concepts of visual and spatial memory by positioning posters and objects in specific locations around the classroom. “I am careful about where to place things in the classroom so that when people do an assessment they can visualize what they have studied from a place in the room.”
Art in the classroom appears to be a popular concept among teachers at ISM. While loud, distracting artwork can negatively impact classroom learning, visual representation of abstract concepts usually add to a positive, welcoming atmosphere, decreasing stress while increasing understanding and boosting memory capacity. Who knew that art could make you smarter?
Article by: Fatima Mannapbekova
Photographs by: Charlene Mamaril