One justification for keeping the arts has now become almost a mantra for parents, arts teachers, and even politicians: arts make you smarter. The notion that arts classes improve children's scores on the SAT, the MCAS, and other tests is practically gospel among arts-advocacy groups. A Gallup poll last year found that 80 percent of Americans believed that learning a musical instrument would improve math and science skills.I think that it is unlikely that art and music classes will increase anyone's math test scores.
But that claim turns out to be unfounded. It's true that students involved in the arts do better in school and on their SATs than those who are not involved. However, correlation isn't causation, and an analysis we did several years ago showed no evidence that arts training actually causes scores to rise. ...
While students in art classes learn techniques specific to art, such as how to draw, how to mix paint, or how to center a pot, they're also taught a remarkable array of mental habits not emphasized elsewhere in school.
Such skills include visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes. All are important to numerous careers, but are widely ignored by today's standardized tests.
Monday, September 03, 2007
School arts classes matter
Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland tell the benefits of teaching art:
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