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Art for Art's Sake?

The Impact of Arts Education

image of Art for Art's Sake?

Arts education is often said to be a means of developing critical and creative thinking. Arts education has also been argued to enhance performance in non-arts academic subjects such as mathematics, science, reading and writing, and to strengthen students’ academic motivation, self-confidence, and ability to communicate and co-operate effectively. Arts education thus seems to have a positive impact on the three subsets of skills that we define as “skills for innovation”: subject-based skills, including in non-arts subjects; skills in thinking and creativity; and behavioural and social skills.

This report examines the state of empirical knowledge about the impact of arts education on these kinds of outcomes. The kinds of arts education examined include arts classes in school (classes in music, visual arts, theatre, and dance), arts-integrated classes (where the arts are taught as a support for an academic subject), and arts study undertaken outside of school (e.g. private music lessons; out-of-school classes in theatre, visual arts, and dance). The report does not deal with education about the arts or cultural education, which may be included in all kinds of subjects.

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Cognitive outcomes of music education

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

This chapter reviews the research on the effects of music learning on cognitive outcomes: general academic achievement, intelligence quotient (IQ), reading and phonological awareness, non-native language learning, mathematics, visual-spatial skills, attention, and memory. Research shows that music lessons improve children’s academic performance, IQ, phonological awareness, and word decoding. We can understand the relationship between music training and phonological awareness since both involve listening skills. Since phonological awareness is related to word decoding, we can also understand why music training might facilitate word decoding skills in young children. But how can we understand the effect of music lessons on IQ and academic performance? We propose the most plausible explanations in the chapter.

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