For Art’s Sake

article image

Schools across the country are cutting back on arts funding. Many have focused resources on standardized test taking, and with the current budget crisis looming, the trend away from the arts shows no sign of changing direction.

To make the case for more arts funding, some experts argue that music, dance, theater, and visual arts can help out in other academic areas. They cite studies like the “Mozart Effect” saying that listening to classical music can boost people’s intelligence.

This is the wrong tactic, according to experts quoted in Greater Good magazine. If the results of these studies are called into question, as they were in the case of the “Mozart Effect,” the argument for arts funding is diminished. Even if scientists question whether or not the arts improve other academic achievement, that doesn’t make the arts any less important.

Leave the science to the scientists, say the critics. Instead of citing studies, the case for the arts is strongest in areas that are hardest to quantify. Ideally, the arts allow students to connect with emotions and to look at something they produce as a piece of art (no small achievement). The arts also provide a chance at connecting with children who aren’t engaged by other areas of academia. None of that, however, is likely to show up in test results from a lab.

Image by Beth Kanter, licensed under Creative Commons.

SourceGreater Good

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.