In the mid 1700s, four academics interested in the development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought — J.J. Rousseau, J.H. Pestalozzi, John Ruskin and Herbert Spencer — wrote about the importance of teaching art for children. In 1884, at the International Conference of Education held in London, an agenda of art education for children was discussed for the very first time. The discussion was largely shaped by the increasing number of schools of design for professional training of children in the U.K. Some of the conference participants underlined the importance of creativity, imagination and a special methodology for the development of children’s artistic skills. The proceedings of the conference, were published in the 1885 Journal of Education, by the Society for the Development of the Science of Education.
By the late 1800s, the Austrian art education reformer Franz Ci?ek called a child’s drawing “a marvelous and precious document” untainted by adults. In 1897, Ci?ek opened the Juvenile Art Class, a weekend school supporting children’s creativity uninhibited by adult vocational standards. The class accepted pupils of 2 to 14 years old for two hours a week, free of charge, with no selection process. By the mid 20th century, advancements in children’s arts education led to hundreds of published studies on the art works of children worldwide. These images so impressed contemporary artists of the time such as Picasso, Miro and Klee that they mimicked the work of children in what became known as “Naive” art, which resurfaced with American and European artists in the 21st century.