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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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The impact of arts education

From advocacy to evidence

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

This chapter sets the context, the research questions and the methodology of the book. We show that policy makers put renewed emphasis on skills for innovation and mobilise arts education as part of this policy agenda. Similarly, arts education advocates sometimes find that arts education is endangered and claim strong impacts of arts education on non-arts skills. The purpose of the book is to show which of these claims are supported by strong research evidence. We present the scope of our report, discuss the concept of transfer, and summarise the goals and methods of the report. We then preview our conclusions.

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