There are a number of educational studies that now show that involvement in making art has tremendous benefits, many of which can transfer to other areas of life. Catterall et all. (2002) summarized the findings of 62 research studies. They identified 84 distinguishable, valid effects of the arts among groups of children. Academic benefits were improved reading, writing and language development skills. General benefits were seen in significant improvement in focus and concentration, skills in expression, persistence, imagination, creativity and enthusiasm in tackling problems. Social skills included, more positive social behavior, social compliance, collaboration with others, ability to express emotions, courtesy, tolerance, conflict resolution skills and attention to moral development.
Research also found that benefits accrued with sustained involvement in the arts over the years. In general youth with art training scored higher than the national average on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT); an average of 31 to 50 points higher for math and verbal sections. Those with four or more years scored significantly higher with 59 points on verbal and 44 points higher on math portions of the test.
In a 10 year national investigation of youth development strategies in the United States Shirley Brice Heath of the Carnegie foundation for the advancement of teaching, found that children in after school arts programs have even better adult outcomes than those involved in sports or community service. The difference she says, can be found in the arts potential to develop personal expressive voices (including critical thinking) informed from a variety of perspectives, while athletic programs are built on fixed rules and limited set of actions, usually under one adult authority.
In at risk youth, the arts have provided a raft of benefits that include social, academic and practical skills, and the development of positive supportive relationships with caring adults. Many times the arts are the only way to reach some of these children.
Finally, a 1996 Swedish longitudinal study published in the British Medical Journal surveyed adults (16-74) who participated in cultural events. They listed reading literature, making music or singing along with attending cultural events. They found that regular practice and attendance promoted longevity. In fact a second study by the same authors found that those who were culturally inactive increased their perception of bad health by 65%. They felt less healthy; concluding that participating in the arts and cultural events leads to feeling better and living longer.
21 juil 2008