Art for Art's Sake?

The Impact of Arts Education

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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.

English Also available in: French, Spanish

Why arts education? Summary and conclusions

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

In this concluding chapter, we summarise the methodology and main findings of the report, propose an agenda for future research and explore some policy implications of our findings. The first section sets the policy context and gives a brief overview of the skills needed in innovation-driven societies. The second section presents the main findings of our review of the impact of arts education. The third section suggests an agenda for future research on arts education. And the final section argues that the main contribution of arts education to innovation societies lies in its development of broad habits of mind. We conclude by arguing that the value of the arts for human experience is a sufficient reason to justify its presence in school curricula.

English Also available in: French

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