I know I’m “preaching to the choir” when I write this, but in case you’re not an artist, remember this: art isn’t just pretty pictures and music isn’t just for dancing. There are benefits beyond what we can see with our eyes, and now someone is finally studying this and asking the right questions.
Art Lasts Longer Than A Fizzy
In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Arkansas National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab (https://nea-research-lab.uark.edu/about-university-of-arkansas-nea-research-lab/) working with Atlanta Public Schools and Woodruff Arts Center ( home to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art) found that art experiences are clearly important in the “formative school experience.” This means that the experiences go beyond the technical learning process and include gained social-emotional skills.
In the study, researchers randomly assigned fourth-and-fifth graders to receive three field trips each to Woodruff’s Art institution in a single year. A control group within the same school and adjacent grades did not receive the same treatment. In this first for arts field trips research, the authors connected survey responses with student administrative data such as attendance, discipline, grades, and standardized tests scores.
More Pretty Pictures Please
According to the Northside Neighbor, here’s some of what they discovered with students receiving the three field trips:
- Higher levels of social-perspective and tolerance primarily through the survey item “I think people can have different opinions about the same thing.”
- More interest in school and positive academic gains.
- Higher test scores on standardized tests in math and English than the control group.
- A higher level of attention to detail by female students (and those who attended 6 field trips in two years showed even higher levels).
In general, they also found that students in the “field trip” group had a more positive view of school and more engagement in general than the control group—and they also had fewer disciplinary infractions.
Perhaps we could all use well …more music and pretty pictures.