Thursday, July 27, 2006

Study Demonstrates Arts Strengthen Literacy 

A research study to be released today conducted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum shows that educating children in the arts improves their literary skills.

The study found that students in the program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills - including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning - than did students who were not in the program.
What is not known is why the arts help students with literacy. One hypothesis, according to Johanna Jones, a senior associate with Randi Korn and Associates, a museum research company conducting the study over three years with a $640,000 grant from the federal Department of Education, is

"that the use of both talking about art and using inquiry to help students tease apart the meaning of paintings helps them learn how to tease apart the meanings of texts, too. They apply those skills to reading."
My theory as to why the arts are so important to learning is that they expand the conceptual understanding of subjects and objects in the world. This expanded capacity to reason is then applied to literacy.

One aspect of this study which its creators could not explain is that participation in the arts did not improve test student test scores on New York's standardized English language arts test. The researchers said that perhaps the explanation is that they tested the children orally while the standardized test is written. I say keep watching these kids and the test scores will also improve.

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