Thanks to glued to the string (an excellent string education blog) after recently posting about music education advocacy, I came across the article “Arts Education; Book Tackles Old Debate: Role of Art In Schools“** featuring researchers at Harvard Project Zero. The article is about their arts education research and new book “Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education,” which seems to have some pretty important implications for arts advocacy. While the book will focus on visual arts there will probably be parallels to music education, especially in the area of advocacy.
The following excerpt from the article, a quote by Dr. Winner, in reference to statistically significant benefits of arts classes is particularly interesting in relation to music education advocacy:
‘When kids take a lot of art, they don’t improve in their core subject areas,” she said in an interview. ”We simply found no evidence of that.”
When students who take art also generally do well in school, Ms. Winner and her co- researchers say, this may be because academically strong schools tend to have strong arts programs, or because families who value academic achievement also value achievement in the arts.
”You cannot conclude that because they’re taking art, they’re doing well in school,” Ms. Winner said. ”There’s just no way to conclude anything about causality.” (Pogren, R. New York Times, 8/4/07)
The article also includes a quote by Dr. Elliot Eisner (well known for his work in education and arts based research) which offers a shift in thinking about arts advocacy to a focus on experiential value.
The article, book and research can certainly add to the richness of dialogue relating to music education advocacy.
** The article requires New York Times Select, which is now free to university students & faculty.