Monday, January 11, 2016

No evidence (yet) that music education helps academic achievement

When schools began cutting even these bands and sing-along music classes, an army of researchers, performers, teachers, and administrators hustled to justify their existence. They rationalized arts education as a magic pill for achieving academic success, rather than teaching the arts solely for their intrinsic value.

In 2001, Harvard researchers would challenge this assertion, combing 188 studies published between 1950 and 1999 to evaluate the effect of arts education on general learning. Their results were shocking: No reliable causal relationship was found between music education and academic performance (except for spatial reasoning). Creative thinking, verbal scores, and math grades were all unaffected by studying music.
Blair Tindall, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music (New York: Grove Press, 2005), p. 258 (citing Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, The Arts and Academic Achievement: What the Evidence Shows (Los Angeles: The Getty Center, 2001). I haven't found that, but there's an executive summary available here. See Ellen Winner & Lois Hetland eds., Beyond the Soundbite: Arts Education and Academic Outcomes (conference proceedings, 2000).)

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