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Champions of Change – the benefits of art

When young people are involved with the arts, something changes in their lives. America’s education system is in a real flux because America is in transition. We are a more diverse society facing daunting demands from global social and technological innovation. The American economy is shifting from a manufacturing-driven engine to a services driven enterprise. If young Americans are to succeed and to contribute in our “economy of ideas,” they will need an education that develops imaginative, flexible and tough minded thinking. The arts powerfully nurture the ability to think in this manner.

An analysis of the Department of Education’s NELS:88 database of 25,000 students demonstrates that students with high levels of arts participation outperform “arts-poor” students by virtually every measure. Since arts participation is highly correlated with socioecomonic status, this comes as little surprise. Closer look showed that high arts participation makes a significant difference to students from low-income backgrounds than for higher income students. Their is clear evidence that sustained involvement in particular art forms-music and theater-are highly correlated with success in mathematics and reading.

This research shows that the youth involved in sports/academic, community involvement, and the arts programs were doing better in school and in their personal lives. The youth in the arts programs were doing the best. Although the youth in arts programs were actually at greater “risk” than those in the other programs, the researchers found that characteristics particular to the arts made those programs more effective. Evidence also shows that learning in the arts has significant effects on learning in other domains.

Why the Arts Change the Learning Experience?

The arts change the learning experience when well taught, the arts provide young people with authentic learning experiences that engage their minds, hearts, and bodies. While learning in other disciplines may focus on a development of a single skill or talent.   The arts regularly engage multiple skills and abilities. The arts reach students who are not otherwise being reached. The arts connect students to themselves and each other. When the arts become central to the learning environment, schools and other settings become places of discovery.

According to the Teachers College research team, the very school culture is changed, and the conditions for learning are improved. Teachers are renewed. Even the physical appearance of a school building is changed through the representations of learning. The arts provide learning opportunities for the adults in the lives of young people. Boredom and complacency are barriers to success. The arts provide new challenges for those students considered successful. The arts connect learning experiences to the world of real work. Ideas are what matter in the evolving workplace and the ability to generate ideas, to bring ideas to life and to communicate them is what matters to workplace success. 

How the Arts Change the Learning Experience?

The best programs enable young people to have direct involvement with the arts and artists. Effective programs require significant staff development. High impact programs demand both adequate staff preparation and strong administrative support. Superior results are also associated with the concept of “practice” and the development of a sense of “craft.” Students involved in the arts should be encouraged with self directed learning. Students who might otherwise complain of boredom become fully challenged. Unlike other subjects that seek right or wrong answers, engagement in the arts allows for multiple outcomes. The students learn to manage risk through permission to fail. Studies show a process that attracts and builds on this engagement from parents and other community members.

We know that arts experience help level the educational playing field for disadvantaged students. The arts learning can help energize or re-energize the teaching workforce, then we must look to the arts both as a vehicle for preparing entrants to the teaching profession and as means of supporting its more experienced members. Looking beyond  classrooms, researchers found the profound impact the arts can have on learning for youth outside school settings.

If well-constructed partnerships between school and arts organizations can increase student achievement, then such partnerships must be nurtured and replicated. Researchers describe the impact of the group vs individual learning generated through a collaborative arts experience. Complex projects, like producing an opera, a shakespeare production, or a visual arts exhibition, significantly deepen the learning process as these studies suggest, the school schedules must also be modified to make such experiences possible. We must seek systematic ways to make the arts a meaningful part of every American child’s life. Together we can make the everyday  learning experiences of young Americans less ordinary and more extraordinary.

We must meet and exceed the challenge of giving our young people the best possible preparation we can offer them.

Positive academic developments for children engaged in the arts are seen at each step in the research-between 8th and 10th grade as well as between 10th and 12th grade. The comparative gains for arts-involved youngsters generally become more pronounced over time. Students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. Sustained student involvement in theater arts, acting in plays and musicals, drama clubs, and taking acting lessons associates with a variety of developments for youth: gains in reading profiency, gains in self concept and motivation, and higher levels of empathy and tolerance for others.

Analyses found substantial and significant differences in achievement and in important attitudes and behaviors between youth highly involved in the arts and those with little or no arts engagement on the other hand. Comparisons of High Arts vs Low Arts Students in Grades 8 and 10 show that High Arts low socioeconomic students score about the same as Low Arts affluent students earning mostly As and Bs in English. Nearly double the number of low socioeconomic students drop out by the 10th grade that are not involved in the arts. Low socioeconomic students in the 10th grade that are involved in the arts consider community service more important than all other students. Researchers also found differences in television watching habits, where arts involved youngster watch considerably less.

The arts play in promoting cognitive development-from specific relations such as the influence of music on perception and comprehension in mathematics to the more general roles of imagery and representation in cognition. The arts serve to broaden access to meaning by offering ways of thinking and ways of representation consistent with the spectrum of intelligences scattered unevenly across our population. The arts have also shown links to student motivation and engagement in school, attitudes that contribute to academic achievement. Arts activities also can promote community-advancing shared purpose and team spirit required to perform in an ensemble musical group or dramatic production, or to design and paint an urban mural. Recent studies in neuroscience linking certain types of music training with positive developments in cognitive functioning.

Involvement in the arts as of grade 12 showed that students fell off in reported involvement in the arts when compared to grade 10. Percentages of out of school classes in music, art, or dance declined markedly between grades 10 and 12. There is a significant drop of students taking daily out of school lessons in grade 10 versus grade 12. High Arts 10th grade students scored 18% higher than Low Arts students on standardized test distribution. However, High Arts 12th grade students scored 46% higher than their Low Arts peers. The general pattern of learning demonstrates that High Arts youngsters did comparatively better on multiple measures as they passed from grade 8 to grade 12.

The probability of being High Arts remains almost as high for students from economically advantaged families and the probability of Low Arts involvement is about twice as high if one comes from and economically disadvantage family. Not only are achievement issues typically more profound for children from families with less education and fewer economic resources, but high socioeconomic students have more opportunities to be involved in the arts. The advantage for arts-involved youngsters increases over the middle and high school years, and especially between grades 10 and 12.

Intensive involvement in a single discipline should probably be thought to be even more important developmentally than high levels of more diverse involvement in the arts. Involvement in instrumental music and cognitive development of mathematics seem to produce effects on cognitive functioning in young children. Other important aspects of the musical experience are learning to read music  and to associate musical notation with abstract concepts of time, rhythm, and pitch. For some musical instruments, like piano and keyboard, there is an associated geometry of music that probably reinforces the spatial-temporal reasoning effects. For other instruments, such as the strings, there are complex linear geometries associated with pitch that bring spatial reasoning to the production of musical sounds and phrases. Studies suggest that musical activity and cognitive development in mathematics are closely related.

Two fundamental mathematical skills are required in order to understand the time meaning represented in a note: the ability to count beats, which allows for an understanding of the absolute value of a note in a measure. Research shows that keyboard training is a more effective intervention on spatial-temporal reasoning skills than computer training and suggest that mastering a musical instrument aids in developing mathematical understanding. Albert Einstein learned to play the violin at age of five.

High socioeconomic students in high and no music  groups do better in mathematics than the average student. However, low socioeconomic students with high involvement in music do better than the average student at attaining high levels of mathematics proficiency. The main points of the analysis are that arts-involved students do better on many measures, their performance advantages grow over time, and these two general performance comparisons also hold for low socioeconomic children.

Students who did not attend organized nonschool activities and were not extensively involved in extracurricular activities at school, each week offered them at best 15-20 minutes of interaction with an adult on a single topic that included painting. Due to long working hours, illness, and crises, young people across all socioeconomic classes have almost no time with adults to hear and use forms of language critical for academic performance and personal maturation. Linguistic competence necessary to talk oneself through tough situations cannot develop without hearing such language modeled. Young people in arts-based organizations gain practice in thinking and talking as adults. They play important roles in their organizations.

Joint work with adults and peers rides on conversations that test and develop ideas, explicate processes, and build scenarios of the future. Professional artists, as well as older youth members, give younger artists specific feedback about techniques to be practiced and developed and they ask questions to help them focus the meaning of their work. The risk of sharing work with peers, the constant anticipation of a critical audience infuses life at these organizations. Youth depend on certain kinds of risk for development. As they work towards a deadline, they give one another advice as well as work with the professional artists that instruct and guide in their organizations. Performing in an arts-based organization helps students put together a capable portfolio to get accepted to a good collegiate institution.

From the approxiamately 750,000 works transcribed from arts-based youth organizations shows the following generalized patterns for arts groups:

  • a five fold increase in use of if-then statements, scenario building following by what if questions, and how about prompts
  • more than a two-fold increase in use of mental state verbs (consider, understand, etc.)
  • a doubling in the number of modal verbs (could, might, etc.)

These linguistic skills enable planning, demonstrate young people’s ability to show they are thinking, and also help them have the language to work together with firm resolution and a respectful manner. Young artists report hearing a melody on the radio, seeing a billboard design or witnessing a fight on the subway, they report that they can be thinking about transforming these moments into their own art.

In these art groups, students had nine times as many opportunities to write original text materials as their classroom counterparts. Adult leaders in arts groups issue in the early weeks of a season twenty six questions per hour to members of the group and precede these by the name of either the individual, a small group, or the full group. These are not questions to which the adult already knows the answer, but queries that prompt ideas, plans, and reactions. Adult leaders expect the youth to be able to engage in conversation in highly serious, reflective ways, and these leaders or drama or writing coaches make clear that young people should expect the same of all adults around the organization. Involvement in the arts demands fluency and facility with varieties of oral performances, literacy’s, and media projections. Youth have to produce numerous types of writing as well as oral performances or organizational genres, ranging from invitations  and schedules to satires, book jackets, and vignettes.

Contrary to most situations they have faced as students, they also must write as a group: scripts for their own plays, press releases, program content, and thank-you letter to funders. Involvement in effective youth-based arts organizations, young people cultivate talents and dispositions they bring into their voluntary association with such high demand high risk places. The intensity of these groups builds skills and capacities rooted in their personal recognition of themselves as competent, creative, and productive individuals.

Research showed that students involved in the arts had a higher perception of self; feels good about themselves, feels his is a person of worth, able to do things as well as others, on the whole is satisfied with self. Children in the arts organizations were often undergoing situations that contributed to uncertainty and insecurity, such as frequent moves, parent losing or starting a job, parental relationship change, or going on or off welfare. Arts organization students often talked and wrote in their journals about how their art enabled them to express pent-feelings and taking the time to think and to listen.

The Generative Capacity of the Arts:

As one adult leader put it, “It starts with kids and then the adults come in”; this claim refers to the various roles that youth groups play for community development-educationally, aesthetically, and economically. Within their own groups, they play mentors for younger members, but when these organizations mount exhibitions, produce plays or musical concerts, or develop videos, their educational roles reach beyond their own organizations. Most dramatic productions are followed by conversations between young actors and audience members. Adults come to see what they have created, this sense of unfamiliarity can deepen pride in parents, who often report never having had such opportunities themselves or never knowing that their child had such talents.

Youth Development with the Arts; Marketing Model-they can sell artistry in their neighborhoods. Tagging Model-young artists see themselves as responsible with instructive positions for younger cohorts who model as well. Positioning Model-Youth participate in apprentice and intern programs. Line Up Model-Youth advance into mainstream secondary or post secondary institutions while also pursuing further enhancement  of artistic talents for vocational or avocational development.

A key outcome for youth engaged with the arts is not just academic development, but also work opportunity – the chance for youth to apply skills, techniques, and habits of mind through employment in arts and/or community related fields. Individuals had to put to work not only what are classically considered academic skills, but also interpersonal, judgmental, and communication abilities. And increasing number of arts organizations around soical entrepreneurship efforts placing the arts at the center of personal and neighborhood based economic development. Producing graphics for local businesses, obtaining paid contracts for a performance series, opening a theater in an under served area, setting up a micro-enterprise incubator for arts-related shops and projects. Hence, the positive learning environments of these groups hold significant value not only in developing youth (in terms of the coginitive, linguistic, and social capacities cultivated in young people involved in these organizations) but also in youth in development (when the activities of these organizations serve as vehicle for young people to participate in social enterprise and community reshaping).

Artistic work often generates enterprise development and inspires entrepreneurial projects and planning. Learning and working that enhance individual merits can generate community benefit and incentive; community initiatives, in turn, enable individuals to remain close to family and neighborhood as resourceful assets. Youth based arts organizations often employ their young members, not just with work directed by adults, but with work that they part in envisioning and initiating at the organization. The arts enable young people to develop indepedence-in thinking, creating, pursuing economic and social goals, and building their futures. Young people who learn the rigors  of planning and production in the arts will be valuable employees in the idea driven workplace of the future.

Students from these youth art groups tend to attend one or more local institutions of higher education and supplement this work with extra coursese through their jobs, churches, neighborhood centers, or unions. Community colleges, technical arts schools, and private business colleges attract these young for specific purposes they develop and pursue. Demonstrating how working in aesthetic projects builds academic involvement which connects to avenues of employment.

What does all this cost?

The rough figures across all the types of arts groups add up to about $1000 per individual student per year. For those who pay either mortgages or market-value rent and must maintain the building, costs per student often run closer to $2000 per month.


Community organizations that work effectively fill the “institutional gap” by providing young people with substantial learning and practice opportunities with adult professionals and older youth who serve as teachers and mentors. Such organizations create ample supplies, instruction, and structured exploration time for young people to know and to develop their talents as producers, spectators.Effective youth arts organizations build strong procivic and pro-social values in young people, enhancing opportunities for youth to reshape the climate of their neighborhoods through local family entertainment, socialization for younger children public service work, and promotion of the arts in their communities. 

There is widespread agreement that the values and priorities of young people can be discerned in the ways they have organized their nonschool hours. Employers respond that experience matters most and how the students/recent graduates have chosen to spend their discretionary time tells much about what kind of employee they will be. The  ability to collaborate, stick to pursuits, show discipline, be expressive, and sustain challenging team memberships transfers well to information based projects and performances that mark American corporations and small businesses. No one can deny the value of practice and opportunity for cultivating these abilities and the merits of experience in drama, dance, music, and the visual art and media arts in community based organizations.

Overview of the study of over 2000 pupils attending public school grade 4-8 by the Center for Arts Education Research at Teachers College Columbia University

Pupils in arts-intensive settings were also strong in their abilities to express thoughts and ideas, exercise their imaginations and take risks in learning. They were also described by their teachers as more cooperative and willing to display their learning publicly. Teachers comment abilities such as thinking creatively and flexibly, imagining ideas and problems from different perspectives, taking imaginative leaps and layering one thought upon another as part of a process of problem solving. Pupils are also seen by their teachers as curious able to express ideas and feelings in individual ways, and not afraid to display their learning before their teachers, peers, and parents.

Imaginative Actuality – Learning in the Arts during the Non-school hours

This study was designed to allow anthropologists and policy analysts to understand effective learning sites that young people choose for themselves in their non-school hours. The scholars carrying out this study were not arts educators or advocates, but social scientists working to understand learning and language development and organizational environments that enhance these for young people likely to be labeled “at-risk” in their schools.

When institutions of society become overburdened and unable to adapt to changes in patterns of human behavior, new institutions need to emerge. Today the sweep of new advances of technology, communication, and enterprise has shifted radically the rhythms and structure of daily American life. Young people often are the one who feel these changes most significantly. Traditional institutions of school, family, and church can no longer meet the needs of today’s children and youth between the ages of 8 and 18. The young people spend only about 26% of their time in school, and of their non-school hours, they have discretion over about 40-50% of that time. When parents and teachers cannot be with youngsters throughout the day to ensure their positive socialization, youth have to look to other places to which they go on their own time and of their own volition that shapes their growth in skills, ideas, and confidence.

Creative youth based non-school organizations and enterprises that have sprung up in response to this “institutional gap” engage young people in productive activities during non-school hours. Such organizations find homes in renovated warehouses, performing arts centers, railway yard buildings, and abandoned stores on dying main streets. These organizations share a central guiding principle they recognize young people as resources now as problems. Rather focus on prevention and detention for “at-risk” youth, these organizations urge creativity and invention with young people as competent risk takers across a range of media and situations.

It became clear that the ethos of these organizations and their easy inclusion of young people in responsible roles make rich environments of challenge, practice, trial and error, and extraordinary expectations and achievements. These organizations’ assets rest primarily in their people and not in buildings, grounds, and equipment. Youth in the organizations of this study emphasize the importance of “having something to do.” They crave experience and productivity. Essential to successful organizations. Young people expect to play many different roles, help make rules, and to be able to take risks by trying something new, taking inspiration from unexpected sources, and creating new combinations of materials, ideas, and people.

The operational frame distributes functions and roles throughout, and marked transitions link to growing responsibilites and commtment by each young person to long-term projects or performances of the group. Young people take part as board members, receptionists, junior coaches, clean up crew, and celebration planners.

Group goals make clear the transformative effects of hard work, creative collaborative work and critique, and acheivement in the face of skepticism about abilities of young people from communities, lacking in economic viability and professional role models.

Young people begin to put their talents and energies to work to enlist civic groups, appropriate business clients, and social service agencies as clients. Tumbling teams become half time entertainment for professional basketball games and neighborhood block parties. Adults ensure that members get lots of practice in looking ahead and figuring out just where problems might arise down the road. “Let’s think about what could happen.” Daily interacted, features work through roles, rules, and risks, and show up in the behaviors of young members. Visual or marked aspects of membership include special gestures (greetings, congratulatory signals), specific costumes (shirts, caps, and jackets with logos), particular places within the space of the organization, and high value on several means of expression (dance, visual arts, logos, etc). Verbal interactions are marked by a heavy use of hypotheticals, affirmations, questions, specific names, playful routines, and wide range of both oral and written genres. Play and humor of what goes on within the group-special messages, unique drum roll for the perenially late young actor, and highly creative lyrics.

Everyday life in these organizations translate into group expectations sitting within a climate of can-do, no matter what happens, they are high quality and high-stakes learning environments that recognize the creative capacities of youth. Rules are not great in number, buy they matter, and they sound like common sense: “pick up after yourself”; “nobody gets hurt here”; “remember this place works because we work.” Environments of arts organizations emerged as somewhat different from those or groups engaged primarily in community or sports.

Quotations of from young people who belonged to arts programs and adult leaders in these groups;

“It changes your perception of the world.”

“You can say really important things in a piece of art.”

“You center yourself and things pour out.”

“When I’m actually doing my art, I feel like I’m in a different frame.”

“We keep pushing the envelope of what we’re doing.”

Essential here is the combination of thinking, saying, and doing something important while being aware of the self and the group in these endeavors.

Expectations of Youth in Effective Organizations

  • Individuals bring diverse talents, skills, knowledge, and networks vital to the life of the group.
  • Everyone has to be ready to pick up the slack, to play different roles, and to be a responsible critic of the group’s work or performance.
  • A season means from start to finish, from plans and preparation to practice, performance, and evaluation.
  • Practice, practice, practice goes along with the need to keep asking, first of the self and then of other, “how’s it going? What do you think?”
  • No one learns or does anything for just the individuals; expect to pass what you know and can do on to others through teaching, mentoring, modeling, encouraging.
  • Adults and youth alike have to be prepared to suspend disbelief, deal with intense emotions, and explore vulnerabilities.
  • Everyone expects the unrelenting accountability that comes from authentic audiences, outsiders to the organization.

The language of youth arts organizations reveals that through planning and preparing the group projects to which individuals contribute, each member has available multiple opportunities to express ideas. Adult leaders start meeting early in the season with open challenges: “what kind of show do you want this year?” Imagination can take youth in the arts to almost any place or project they dream up and young people’s willingness to work to make their ideas happen. “We give them room to fail as well as to succeed,” comes up often in adult leaders’ talk about how they work with young people.

The Arts Director of a theatre group asks performers to choose a leader and then to work in groups of three for half an hour to develop a scene from a piece of writing taken out of the journal of one member. The chosen leader of the three focuses the group on making a choice quickly and then guides talk toward scene development in the allotted time. Young artists work against the immovable deadline of performance and project development, knowing that in the final analysis, their work will be judged by outside authentic audiences of friends and family.

Plans from these organizations come from and with young people rather than for them. At the minute to minute level, this means that young people get lots of practice in developing future sceneraios, explaining ideas, arguing for a particular tactic, and articulating strategies. The talk about “what if” “what about…?” “could we try this?” “let’s try…” They preface suggestions with subject-verb phrases that attribute responsibility to their own mental work: “I wonder,” “I came up with this crazy idea…” “I see this going some other way.” Such talk can slip past the casual listener but in arts organizations, the frequency of “what if?” questions, modal verbs (such as could) and mental state verbs (such as believe, plan) as well as complexity of hypothetical proposals amounts to lots of practice. Young members talk and talk in their planning, during practice, and around critique. The intensity of practice for these types of language uses is rarely available to them in any other setting.

The Arts Creative Thinking Abilities

More detailed analysis showed that youngsters included in the high arts groups scored well on measures of creativity, fluency, originality, elaboration, and resistance to closure.  We heard from arts specialists, art providers, and teachers of other subjects these same capacities are critical to arts learning as well as to other subject disciplines. In the arts, whether visual, music, dance, or drama, the ability to explore myriad ideas, envision and try out unusual and personal responses, consider objects, ideas, and experiences in detail, and be willing to keep thoughts open long enough to take imaginative leaps, are all important.

Arts Involvement and General Competencies

Young people included in the High Arts groups also scored more strongly in terms of academic teachers’ perceptions of their general competencies. High Arts groups were stronger than those in Low Arts groups in their ability to express their thoughts and ideas, exercise their imaginations and take risks in their learning. They were also more cooperative and showed a greater willingness to display their learning before a community of their peers and parents. Young people involved in the arts were able to unify divergent thoughts and feelings within representational forms that make it possible for them to express their ideas in many different ways. Art subjects provide children with the ability to take imaginative leaps and to envision new possibilities and probabilities.

Creative Thinking Abilities

Arts Involvement and General Competencies

Arts allow children to take risks in their thinking as they try out new and unexpected arenas of learning. The Arts require a great deal of collaboration and cooperation in their creation. High arts youngsters were far more likely than their Low Arts counterparts to think of themselves as competent in academics. They were also far more likely to believe that they did well in school in general, particularly in language and mathematics. Youngsters exposed to strong arts education acquire a sense of confidence in themselves that radiates beyond the studios and performance spaces.

Arts Involvement and Perceptions of Self Concept as Learner

Arts involvement and School climate

Administrators and teachers in high arts schools attributed many positive features of their in-school climate to the arts. Researchers found that school arts programs had supportive administrators who played a central role in ensuring the continuity and depth of provision. They encouraged teachers to take risks, learn new skills, and broaden theri curriculum.

The finding of our study show that children in arts-rich schools are more likely than children in low-arts schools to have good rapport with their teachers. Results show that teachers in arts-rich schools demonstrate more interest in their work and are more likely to become involved in professional development experiences. They are also more likely to be innovative in their teaching. The data on teacher affiliation show that such teachers tend to have good working relationships with other teachers in their school. In the high-arts settings, we found considerable flexibility in curriculum design, with less emphasis on conformity, formalization, or centralization. Researchers discovered that the results of their study were more firmly tied to rich arts provision than to high economic status.

Arts Competencies and Other Disciplines

In subjects such as science, mathematics, and language, invitations to accommodate conflicting ideas formulate new and better ways of representing thoughts, and to take risks and leaps call forth a complex of cognitive and creative capacities. These capacities are typical of arts learning. What’s interesting about this is that it reveals a rich interweaving of intuitive practical, and logical forms of thought at work advancing the range and depth of children’s thinking.  This mix of intuitive and logical thinking is, highly typical of most creative artists, scientists, and thinkers in general.

Relationship of Arts Learning to Other School Disciplines

This study reveals that learning in the arts is complex and multi dimensional. They found a set of cognitive competencies-including elaborative and creating thinking, fluency, originality, focused perception, and imagination. These contexts elicit the ability to take multiple perspectives, to layer relationships, and to construct and express meaning in unified forms of representation. In arts learning young people become adept at dealing with high levels of ambivalence and uncertainty.

Educations Implications of the Study

Researchers have clear empirical evidence that children, in what we have called the low-arts schools, are less able to extend their thinking. It appears that a narrowly conceived curriculum, in which the arts are either not offered or are offered in limited and sporadic amounts, exerts a negative effect on the development of critical cognitive competencies and personal dispositions. Within Arts-rich schools teachers thought about, and accepted, a variety of different ways for pupils to be creative, to exercise skills and to think through problems, and exercise imagination in the construction of paintings, musical compositions, choreography, and plays. The arts are participants in the development of critical ways of thinking and learning. By interacting dynamically with other subject domains, offer children generative and complex learning.

Policy Implications of the Study

Given the findings, schools should develop and offer to their pupils a critical mass of arts subjects in visual arts, music, dance, and drama. Young people must be allowed to study as fully as possible across the arts disciplines. Results show very clearly that the habits of mind and personal dispositions needed for academic success were nurtured in high-arts schools where young people had pursued several arts over a duration of time. Schools interested in nurturing complex minds should provide a critical mass of art instruction over the duration of young people’s school lives. We need to stress that while arts learning is unique, in participation with other disciplines, it serves the cause of promoting the intellectual development of young people. The double face of arts learning-its simultaneous openness and closeness-gives it a special role in the curriculum.

We need teachers who-through their own experiences in the arts-are complex, reflective thinkers and practitioners, knowledgeable about the young people they teach and the cultures that define them. Art teachers need to be able to balance teaching both in and across their disciplines, which implies the ability to be collaborative and aware of possibilities for learning beyond their own specialization.