Art for Art’s Sake

by Robert Pondiscio
April 28th, 2008

“If arts education stakes its claim to students’ time and schools’ money on some unproven power to push standardized test scores upward, its position in American schools is bound to be precarious,” notes Ann Hulbert in the New York Times Magazine. She was responding to a claim made by Barack Obama on the campaign trail that “children who learn music actually do better in math, children whose imaginations are sparked by the arts are more engaged in school.”

A direct link between arts education and higher test scores is elusive, Hulbert notes, but that’s not a reason to ignore the arts in school. Citing research by Ellen Winner, a Boston College professor of psychology, and Lois Hetland, who teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she notes evidence that engaging in in art and music in school helps students develop “persistence in tackling problems, observational acuity, expressive clarity, reflective capacity to question and judge, ability to envision alternative possibilities and openness to exploration.”

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