Teaching visual arts to boys



Visual arts education develops abilities that are not generally covered in other subjects, such as creativity, visual spatialization, personal reflection, concentration and experimentation.

It is therefore disturbing to observe that boys are generally less interested in visual arts than girls, and make less of an effort to excel in these areas.

Boys show less personal investment in the arts fields than girls, and are generally less successful in art.

The findings of Université de Sherbrooke education professor Alain Savoie and his research team are unequivocal: boys show less personal investment in the arts fields than girls, and are generally less successful in art. Dr. Savoie sought to understand the reasons behind this phenomenon, on order to assist in the development of teaching strategies and tools that are better adapted to both boys and girls.

While avoiding stereotyping, Alain Savoie has nonetheless found that the majority of boys tend to show predominantly systemizing traits, that is to say they are primarily interested in objects and see the world as a system to be analyzed. Conversely, the majority of girls demonstrate empathizing traits, with a tendency to focus on people and the thoughts and feelings of others. These gender-differentiated traits have an impact on the apprehension of artistic tasks. For example, colour mixing is highly technical—and therefore systemizing— while the appreciation of works of art is more empathizing, as it requires an emotional response and the ability to identify with the artist. Offering visual arts activities that emphasize both systemizing and empathizing should be part of a pedagogical approach aimed at students of both genders.

This research has been presented at a number of conferences in Québec, and is the subject of an article published in Creative Education Scientific Research.