30 July 2008 09:28 AM

NCLB versus Arts

by Dr. Rick
With increasing emphasis on standardized testing in American schools and with a growing competition for education dollars in schools’ budgets, is there still a compelling reason to insist on including the arts in students’ curricula?

You bet there is.

There are the often-cited compelling reasons. There’s plenty of evidence to show that students who are involved in the arts perform better than students who aren’t. There are studies that show the arts’ positive influence on the achievement of high-poverty rural and urban students. Some educators, politicians and even poll respondents claim that the arts will help students on standardized tests.

Really? Is there a cause-and-effect relationship? No one seems to know. But there’s an interesting study from Boston, funded by the J. Paul Getty Trust, that says the arts are relevant and important for another reason: they address certain thinking skills and habits not otherwise taught in schools’ curricula.

As reported in The Boston Globe, this study identifies those arts-emphasized skills as reflection, self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes. It’s rare that the standardized test assesses these skills, skills that are necessary in higher education, on the job, in Real Life.

Later this week, I’ll touch further on the relevance of art and the “habits of mind” it teaches.




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