How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Art

Solving complex, difficult, and demanding problems like health care, climate change, and climate change requires creative, innovative, and imaginative approaches. Where do we find these approaches? In art.


"The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer." 

                                    -Elliot Eisner

The arts are rich in creativity, and by teaching art, we teach creativity and abstract thinking, which are critical skills for solving tough problems. Elliot Eisner, a professor of education at Stanford University, explains the role of the arts in a child’s life: “The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of the large lessons kids can learn from practicing the arts is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.” Dr. Eisner’s connection between arts and problem solving leads us away from the idea that art is only about making aesthetically pleasing objects or providing entertainment, and gives us a way to be more innovative in simple yet powerful ways. The encouragement of artistic abilities in the children will help them develop in ways that empower them to deal with the problems in the world they will inherit.

In fact simply doodling can help solve problems. A great portion of our brain is built to process images, so by drawing in addition to talking and writing, the fully engaged brain can come up with better solutions. Drawing forces the idea to become a lot clearer and finite. You can use this concept on everything from developing a hose hold budget to learning differential equations. It’s helpful when creating goals, because once you have finished visualizing your goal, then you have a picture as a tangible reminder of your ambitions.

Tips when Doodling to Solve Problems:

  1. Conveying the thought is more important that your artistic ability. Don’t worry about if it doesn’t look like what you thought it should.
  2. Keep it simple. Start with simple shapes and use lines or arrows showing how things relate to one another.
  3. Don’t edit yourself. It’s important to get the whole thought out. Even if you make a mistake along the way, all the pictures will connect eventually.

Business, education, and government leaders everywhere have highlighted creative thinking as an essential twenty-first-century skill. Introducing educators to the idea that the arts teach creative problem solving will help people manage frustration, uncertainty, and ambiguity with innovative ideas and solutions. Through the arts, we can learn how to express unique identities, while simultaneously developing habits that foster success anywhere, from the classroom to the workplace.