Stop … have a look around you – just about everthing you see around you has been designed by someone that was first infulenced by an art teacher. The website this blog is on, the house that you are living in, your coffee tin that you open ever morning, the shampoo bottle in the shower. Even the clothes that you are currently wearing! So why is so little value given to this amazing person that initialy influences almost everthing you see and interact with?

Art teachers must be amongst the most unappreciated teachers in schools. They are loved by the children they teach – because what child does not love Art classes – but the value of Art is unfortunately seen as less important than Mathematics and the Sciences.

Children naturally love art – painting, drawing, making music, the theatre. See the concentration on young children’s faces when they finger paint, mould play dough, tear shapes out of paper – and the joy, satisfaction and pride they have in their finished product. See their rapt faces when they watch a theatre production.

Not all children are gifted in the sciences, and these children can often feel “stupid” in the classroom, which results in a lack of interest in school and low self-esteem. But such children can blossom and thrive through Art – because there is not just one right way to make art, every child can feel pride in her or his original artistic creations. Visual art is ALSO an academic subject – it just requires a different interpretation!

Whilst the importance of Mathematics and Sciences should not be overlooked, the importance of Art in relation to these subjects cannot be ignored. Art helps children to think creatively, with an open mind; to observe and describe, analyse and interpret; to express feelings, with or without words; to practice problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, dance, music, theatre and art-making skills, language and vocabulary; to discover that there is more than one right answer and there are multiple points of view.

I don’t think we love teachers enough. Yet most adults can remember that special teacher who made a difference in their lives. Those men and women who encouraged and motivated them and believed in their ability to fulfil their dreams.

Teaching is not about working “school” hours and enjoying the long school holidays. Teaching is commitment, dedication, love of learning and passing on knowledge, inspiring and motivating young minds. Teaching is getting up very early to be at school to welcome the first arrivals, working late hours marking homework and preparing lessons, being involved with extra-curricular activities. All teachers, including Art teachers, should be praised and acknowledged for without them, where would we be?

This is why the Art Teachers’ Association of South Africa (ATASA) has, in collaboration with SORTED, arranged a Symposium for GET Phase Teachers of Visual Art on Saturday, 30 August 2014, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mowbray Campus (Highbury Road, Mowbray), Cape Town.

For more information contact or go to the ATASA Facebook Page.