Source: China State Council Information Office 3
“Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. found that incorporating art, such as dancing and drawing, into science lessons can help underachieving students retain more knowledge and possibly help students of all levels of ability be more creative in their learning,” stressed Zheng Qinyan, a professor with the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), at a lecture organized by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation on Dec. 4.
CAFA president and professor Fan Di’an also attended the lecture. He, together with Zheng, offered insight into how strengthening aesthetic education for young people can help cultivate their artistic literacy and promote their all-round development.
According to Fan, the fundamental purpose of aesthetic education is to nurture an early love of life, nature, and the world so that children can see and express the beauty around them. Given the close relationship between the aesthetic attainment of children and the perceived civil development of a country, Fan called for an earlier start to arts education for children.
Offering suggestions regarding youth aesthetic education, Fan stated that arts education should help youngsters open their minds to finding, feeling, and appreciating beauty by exposing them more to both nature and ordinary facets of life.
He then emphasized the role of free imagination in artistic creation, urging teachers and parents to respect children’s unique ideas and understanding in making art, instead of seeking quick success from students.
“Artistic training ought to give full play to a child’s imagination and motivate them to explore the unknown, which is also essential to build China into a country of innovators,” said Fan.
Young people’s dreams and ambitions should be a highlight in artwork creation as well, Fan added. He took painting as an example, noting that “painting is not all about drawing skills — what’s more important is to present your dreams through your works.”
Zheng described how appreciating beauty can come from displaying a diverse range of Chinese and Western artworks. She used the work of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and the ancient Chinese calligrapher Yan Zhenqing as examples of this approach.
Having nearly died from a bus accident as well as undergoing more than 30 medical operations, Kahlo taught herself to paint and became one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Yan Zhenqing, meanwhile, was not only an iconic calligraphy master during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), but he was also a politician and military general who gained fame for his loyalty and bravery.
Zheng explained that Kahlo and Yan demonstrated an outstanding combination of praiseworthy personal traits and extraordinary achievements in fine art. Therefore, art classes should also inspire students to admire the lofty characters reflected in these artists.
Zheng added that aesthetic education is also about nourishing minds, emotions, and creativity in life. She hopes that young people can appreciate and value beauty by “communicating” with the world around them and capturing it through artworks such as paintings, photographs, and sculpture.