Art Helps Increase Literacy

By Randy Kennedy

In an era of widespread cuts in public-school art programs, the question has become increasingly relevant: does learning about paintings and sculpture help children become better students in other areas?

A study to be released today by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum suggests that it does, citing improvements in a range of literacy skills among students who took part in a program in which the Guggenheim sends artists into schools. The study, now in its second year, interviewed hundreds of New York City third graders, some of whom had participated in the Guggenheim program, called Learning Through Art, and others who did not.

The study found that students in the program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills — including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning — than did students who were not in the program. The children were assessed as they discussed a passage in a children’s book, Cynthia Kadohata’s “Kira-Kira,” and a painting by Arshile Gorky, “The Artist and His Mother.”

The results of the study, which are to be presented today and tomorrow at a conference at the Guggenheim, are likely to stimulate debate at a time when the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind has led schools to increase class time spent on math and reading significantly, often at the expense of other subjects, including art.

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About arts2grow

Arts to Grow (ATG) engages children in the artistic process by providing free, highly tailored and professionally taught arts education programs to youth in the New York metro area who have limited access to the arts. Arts to Grow collaborates closely with schools and community groups to match performing and visual arts programs and Teaching Artists with the specific needs of each group of children. ATG serves the community and society by helping children develop their full potential through the arts.

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