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Arts and the left-brain: high school edition

>I think I’ve mentioned to y’all that I never had any substantial arts education before college beyond flunking out of piano lessons in pre-school and the plastic, generic recorder in fourth grade at St. Henry’s School. Seriously, there was none until my college music appreciation class which I got absolutely nothing out of since I’m still musically illiterate. I did okay academically and in fact began my collegiate studies with the intention of majoring in engineering. Thankfully, I changed my major to Mass Communications and while focused on journalism, did put in a hefty number of hours in visual communications. 

I got to thinking about the value of arts education when I recently found studies that show that four years of art and or music in high school equate to higher performance on SAT’s as this chart shows.

In addition, students who take four years of some form of arts are far less likely to drop out of school. Seems to me Tennessee and federal lawmakers need to take heed of this when factoring in funding for the arts.

Need more than just a couple of charts?

The findings are consistant according to this 1999 article by AP writer Carl Hartman.  But a 1998 in-depth Harvard statistical study roundly disputes this broader claim and identified strong correlations in only three areas: 
     Listening to Music and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning
     Learning to Play Music and Spatial Reasoning
     Classroom Drama and Verbal Skills

The Harvard study makes one assertion that I think all educators and parents and policy makers should completely stand by, though: 

Let’s stop requiring more of the arts than of other subjects. The arts are the only school subjects that 
have been challenged to demonstrate transfer as a justification for their usefulness. If we required 
physical education to demonstrate transfer to science, the results might be no better, and 
probably would be worse. So, it is notable that the arts can demonstrate any transfer at all.”
I’m not telling you what to do but I plan to write my legislators – state and federal – and make sure they keep funding for arts education off the budget chopping block.  Personally and ideally, I see investing more heavily in the arts (globally) equating to lower costs for defense.  Hmmm.  Another good future blog study methinks! 

Tune in in the next few days for “Arts and the left-brain: corporate success edition.”

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