The Arts Enhance Education

Research has conclusively demonstrated the connection between arts exposure and academic performance and without exception concludes that learning is strengthened through participation in the arts.

Learning through the Arts, a three year national research study conducted by Queen’s University concluded that involvement in the arts contributed to student achievement as much as 11 percentile points higher in math than their peers. Ninety per cent of parents reported that the arts motivated their children to learn. Teachers, parents, artists, and administrators talked about how the arts motivated children, referring to the emotional, physical, cognitive, and social benefits of learning in and through the arts.

Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement, a comprehensive study of evidence-based research on what we have learned about the arts and student achievement was recently conducted by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership. The report concluded that:

– learning experiences in the arts contribute to the development of academic skills in reading, language development, and mathematics.

– participation in the arts contributes to our thinking skills including our reasoning ability, intuition, perception, imagination, inventiveness, creativity, problem-solving skills, and expression.

– arts activities promote growth in positive social skills, including self-confidence, self-control, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, and social tolerance, and contribute to developing social competencies among educationally or economically disadvantaged youth at risk.

– the arts nurture a motivation to learn, particularly with those at risk and students with special needs, improving competencies in active engagement, disciplined and sustained attention, persistence, and risk taking, and contribute to creating a positive learning environment that fosters community engagement, increased student attendance, more effective instructional practice, and school identity.

Despite convincing research and strong public support, the arts remain on the margins of education.

Presentation to the British Columbia Government
September 2007