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The Surprising Ways A Trip To The Art Museum Will Benefit Your Kid

The art museum field might be the highlight of a school kid’s semester (“Indoor snow day!”) and the bane of that kid’s teacher’s existence (“I’m a professional, dammit, not a not a chaperone!”), but is it doing the kids any good? Researchers at the University Of Arkansas found that these trips didn’t just give kids a greater appreciation for art — they led to higher levels of critical thinking, tolerance, and empathy, too.

The study looked at 10,912 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at 123 different schools. Half the students visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Northwest Arkansas, while the control group had their field trip postponed. Then both groups were given surveys that “included multiple items assessing knowledge about art as well as measures of critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and sustained interest in visiting art museums,” according to the study’s authors. Researchers found that kids who visited the museum scored higher in all of these categories. “The changes were measurable and significant,” co-author and professor of education reform Jay P. Greene told Fast Company. He noted that these students remembered what they’d learned “even without an external reason for doing so — like a grade or a test.” And these benefits were greatest among minority students as well as students in rural or high-poverty schools,Greene suggested that much of the benefit came from simply getting students out of the traditional school setting (all the more reason to learn how to make museums fun for your kid). “It’s the difference between watching a televangelist and going to church,” he said “It’s why museums and churches invest in architecture. The act of going gets people into a mindset to receive the experience.” Clearly, the takeaway is that schools should be built to look more like art museums, and classrooms need more Rembrandts.

( Via Fast Company)