SchoolArts Room

Persistence: Why it is Important

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Sep 9, 2018

Persistence. Does that concept play a part in your teaching? For your students? For yourself? Persistence is the ability to stick with something, to continue working, to try harder, to not give up. I see persistence as an incredibly important trait for your students to develop in approaching their artwork. We’ve all had students who tell us, “I’m done!” when we know they are not and that they could do more. The challenge for teachers is to help our students become more persistent and patient and to see that persistence does pay off. I know I spent a lot of time saying to my students, “What else could you do?”

Persistence got me to the top of this rock!

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. ~ Thomas Foxwell Buxton

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Wishing will not; Talent will not; Genius will not; Education will not; Persistence is like a Genie that creates a magical force in your life. ~ Lucas Remmerswaal 

Persistence is included in the National Visual Art Standards under the anchor standard of Refine and Complete Artistic Work: “What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work?”

Similarly, The Studio Habits of Mind, developed by Project Zero, a research arm of Harvard’s School of Education, also include Engage and Persistas one of eight dispositions that an artist uses: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks

The studio lessons this month in SchoolArts were chosen because they have sequential, and substantive components that require time and persistence for students to develop skills and expand meaning and concepts.

For students to be successfully persistent, I believe art teachers must have high expectations of students. I was recently at an art camp where a non-art teacher told students they could be finished whenever they liked, implying that the quality or completion of their work didn’t matter. I held my tongue but I disagreed. As an art teacher I have always felt it is my responsibility to help and encourage students to be and do the best they can. Encouraging, prompting, motivating, coaxing, urging, whatever it takes, we must persist in motivating students to do their best work.