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Volume 15, Number 6
November/December 1999

The Arts Step Out from the Wings

As interest in arts education rises, researchers explore what young people learn from the arts—and how to make sure at—risk students benefit, too


Creativity, perseverance, and striving for excellence. According to U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, these qualities define both the goals of education reform and the process of studying the arts. Small wonder, then, that attention to the presence of the arts in classrooms is dramatically on the rise. In less than two decades, the number of states requiring study of the arts for high school graduation has surged from two to 32, according to the National Arts Education Association, and an additional 14 states intend to adopt arts standards in the near future.

With this increased emphasis on the arts, researchers and practitioners are trying to sort out what role the arts play—or should play—in education and how to develop quality programs that reach more students.

The renewed interest in the arts is actually rooted in events that took place decades ago. Following the excitement of the Sputnik challenge of 1957, the United States turned its educational focus to math and science. As the National Science Foundation mushroomed in size, the humanities were relegated to a second-class status, and arts education became viewed by many as a luxury rather than as a vital means for developing young minds.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author

    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    ArtsEdge, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC 20566.

    Arts Education Partnership, One Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20001-1431.

    National Arts Education Association, 1916 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1590.

    Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 321 Longfellow Hall, 13 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

    Reviewing Education and the Arts Project (REAP), Project Zero.