It's Not Either Or. It's Both And.
I've had a side conversation with Nick Rabkin, author of Putting the Arts in the Picture: Reframing Education in the 21st Century. He takes me to task for drawing too bright a line between instrumental and intrinsic benefits of the arts, and I think he's right. He mentions James Catterall's evaluation of the schools working with the Chicago Arts Partnerships that found that test scores were rising faster in those schools than they were in comparable schools without the program--results that got serious attention from the Chicago Board of Education. But the reason students do better is intimately connected to arts' intrinsic effects.
Here's what Nick writes:. . . Over the last few years I have concluded that what James reported and what I have seen in those classrooms is not instrumental at all. We mistake it as instrumental because we define "art", as Eric says, by its nouns, the products that artists make. But if art is understood as multiple ways of engaging the world, making sense and meaning from it, and expressing that meaning through a medium, we would understand that the cognitive gains the test may (or may not) reflect and the language mastery that comes with the photography lessons are part of an integrated package. Intrinsic and instrumental are, like the subjects in the curriculum, ways of categorizing the world that can be helpful. But they can also blind us to the complexity of the world, and I'm afraid they do in this case. We could easily say that the "intrinsic" benefits you ascribe to art your post - "pleasure, arts experiences develop in us the capacity to move imaginatively and emotionally into different worlds (as James Cuno has so aptly described), to broaden our field of reference beyond the confines of our immediate experience; to exercise our capacity for empathy; to develop our faculties of perception, interpretation, and judgment; and to form common bonds of humanity through some works of art that manage to convey what whole communities have experienced" - are instrumental. I want to experience some pleasure, so I watch a movie. That is instrumental. I think the confusion grows fundamentally from the frame that defines art: it is broadly understood as affective, sensual, and expressive, and not cognitive. But the most current cognitive science seems to be showing that this is a continuation of what Antonio Dimasio, the noted neuroscientist has called "Descartes Error." I say, let's take a page from the playbook of our new president-elect. Let's call a time out in this intrinsic-instrumental debate. It is not either or. It is both and.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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