Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 24
For the Future,
Raul Arias for Education Week
By Emily Gasoi & Sonya Robbins Hoffmann
here is broad acknowledgment that
schools are playing catch-up as we head
into the 21st century. Technology and resulting innovation are rapidly changing
our culture, making it imperative that
schools change as well. We don't know
what many of the jobs of the future will
look like, but we do know which skills and
dispositions will be critical in order for people to navigate
this new world. As our learning institutions adapt, the
emphasis placed on teaching content will be supplanted
by a focus on teaching process.
Teaching and assessing skills gained through the arts,
as well as in creative processes across other disciplines,
will become the norm. Here are some examples of the
kinds of demands we are already responding to in the
21st-century that compel us to advocate more and better
1. To sift through the constant flow of information, students need to develop skills to evaluate the quality and
accuracy of content and recognize false information.
2. A wide variety of technology and media platforms
necessitates the ability to think critically and work with
a variety of tools.
3. Employers are demanding
creative problem-solving skills,
as well as the ability to self-direct
4. In a gig economy characterized by temporary projects and
frequent shifts in occupation, students will be faced with both increased control of career
path and no clear road map. Being able to imagine one's
path and to pivot as external realities change is critical.
5. In our global society, curiosity, flexibility, and particularly the ability to see multiple perspectives are necessary building blocks for interacting with other cultures.
As decades of arts education scholarship have shown,
engaging in high-quality arts learning develops these
important skills and dispositions. And there is now broad
agreement that schools need to explicitly teach them, as
evidenced by widespread practices to deepen social-emotional learning, global citizenship, and 21st-century skills
in general education.
However, assessment of these skills is difficult. Content
learning, focused as it is on studying a set body of information, is easier to assess than process learning, which
engages students in an ongoing cycle of inquiry, experimentation, and refinement. In order to devise strong assessments for arts learning, educators must grapple with
how exactly to gauge these skills.
In our work as consultants, we help schools and arts
education organizations strengthen creative teaching
and learning practices. We have learned that when we
are helping to craft assessment tools, we are often also
helping to revise curriculum. Devising effective assessments in this arena requires schools and arts education
organizations to clarify what it is they want students to
learn in the first place.
Take this case study from our own work, for example:
An arts-focused public school, which received Title I funding for disadvantaged students, was struggling with how
to assess K-8 student learning across arts disciplines.
When we began working with this school two years ago,
the primary evaluations they used were performances
and exhibits for families that showcased students' skills.
In addition, within individual arts classrooms, teachers
had come up with their own idiosyncratic methods for
measuring student growth. Students moved from one
arts classroom to another encountering wildly different
expectations and values.
The school administration was eager to help teachers
align their classroom practices and develop more substantive assessments that would bring cohesion to expec-
We Still Have So Much More to Learn
By Howard Gardner & Ellen Winner
ifty years ago, a small group of scholars joined
together to launch Project Zero at the Harvard
Graduate School of Education. The philosopher
Nelson Goodman christened the interdisciplinary team "Project Zero" to convey that while
there was plenty of useful lore in education in
the arts, there was little systematic knowledge.
Through much of the 20th century, it's fair to
say that artistry had not been taken seriously in American social science.
Project Zero has drawn on several disciplines-pre-eminently developmental psychology and cognitive psychology-
to elucidate the range of skills and understandings that were
appreciated by artists and arts lovers but not by the broader
public, including most educators.
During our long involvement with the project (Howard Gardner was a founding member of project; Ellen Winner joined the
research staff in 1973), we came to realize that while building
a base of knowledge about artistry was vital, it was also important to separate knowledge supported by research from claims
that, however appealing, were not supported by the facts. One
such claim is that arts education boosts children's academic
performance. Numerous correlational studies report that students who study the arts do better in school than those who
do not study the arts. But correlational studies are subject to
selection effects (already academically strong students choosing to study the arts, for instance) and cannot tell us about
causality. For that, we must turn to studies with an experimental design.
In the late 1990s, Lois Hetland and Winner took a close
look at the experimental studies from 1950 to 1999-all those
that were both published or unpublished and appeared in
English-that tested the claim that studying the arts leads
to higher academic achievement. Dubbing this undertaking
the REAP project (for Reviewing Education and the Arts), the
researchers examined studies looking at reading and math
achievement in children before and after getting high vs. low
exposure to the arts in their schools.
When these studies were combined statistically into a metaanalysis, it turned out that the students in the high-exposure
groups gained no more than those in the low-exposure groups.
That result should not surprise us. After all, the ways of thinking learned in the arts are really very different from the skills
assessed by verbal and math multiple-choice tests or by grades
in traditional academic subjects.
Most studies examining that kind of transfer from the arts
fail to do something very important: They forget to analyze
what is being taught in the arts classes. Any plausible theory
of transfer needs to be based on an understanding of the kinds
of thinking skills being taught in the "parent" domain. Only
then does it make sense to ask whether one or more of those
skills might transfer to learning in another domain of cognition
outside the arts.
To that end, REAP project researchers undertook a qualitative, ethnographic study of "serious" visual-arts classrooms.
They observed high-quality visual-arts classes at the secondary school level and analyzed the kinds of habits of mind being
taught. The researchers found that at the same time students
were learning the craft of painting, sculpture, drawing, and
more, four potentially generalizable habits of mind were also
being taught: learning to envision, express, observe, and reflect. They also documented two important working styles
being taught: learning to stretch and explore and to engage
All these habits of the mind and working styles are certainly
potentially generalizable to other domains, but that possibility still needs to be demonstrated experimentally. The habitsof-mind framework that grew out of this research-and was
published in Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts
Education (Teacher's College Press, 2007)-is now being used
by visual-arts teachers from many countries and at all K-12
The researchers' goal was to shift the conversation away from
test scores as arts education's justification to broad habits of
mind. And teachers have frequently reported that this framework proves to be a powerful advocacy tool. Now, researchers
are adopting this method to uncover habits of mind taught in
music classes and in theater.
Some of the habits of mind are taught across artistic media.
For example, instruction in each art form helps students to develop aspects of craft, to imagine or envision various solutions
to a puzzle, and to engage in critiques of specific works. How-
24 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 4, 2017 | www.edweek.org/go/commentary
Raul Arias for Education Week
ever, there are likely to be "habits of mind" that are specific to
certain art forms. Learning how to participate in an ensemble
is crucial in a performing art; paying scrupulous attention to
the conductor is important in classical music; suppressing one's
own personality and adopting a different persona is essential
in the dramatic arts.
As the Roman adage has it, "ars longa, vita brevis"-it will
take many lifetimes to elucidate the nature of artistic knowledge and thinking; to determine how best to nurture arts
teachers as well as general teachers; and then to introduce
young (and perhaps older) people to the arts-whether they
are to become professional artists, amateur artists, or simply
those who enjoy dabbling in the arts as audience members.
The effort is worthwhile. Indeed, civilizations in the past are
judged as much-if not more-for their artistry than for their
other achievements. n
HOWARD GARDNER is a professor of cognition and education at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education. ELLEN WINNER is a professor
of psychology at Boston College and senior research associate at
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 4, 2017
Education Week - October 2, 2017
States Are Making It Easier To Transfer Teacher Licenses
Union Fees Again Reach High Court
Education Advisers Say White House Has Ignored Them
News in Brief
Independent Charters Aim to Elevate Their Status
In Devastated Puerto Rico, Reopening of Schools Is Far Off
Are Selectivity and Diversity Competing Goals for Teaching?
Teachers Found to Miss More Work In Regular Schools Than in Charters
Math, Reading Hurdles Drawing Joint Scrutiny
Growing Numbers of States Embrace Career Education
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: From Theory to Practice, Hurdles for Personalized Learning
New SAT Results Hard to Gauge
K-12 Budget Woes Dog States As School Year Advances
DeVos Expounds on Policy In One-on-One Interview
DeVos Gives Schools Options On Handling of Sexual Assault
Watch List: High Court, 2017-18 Term
Scenes From DeVos’ ‘Rethink School’ Tour
State ESSA Plans: One-Stop Guide
Arts Education: A Look Ahead Researchers, professors, and practitioners make their case for the future of the discipline
Susan Riley: The ‘A’ in STEAM Completes the Puzzle
Jay P. Greene: Arts Integration Is a Sucker’s Game
Howard Gardner & Ellen Winner: We Still Have So Much More to Learn
Emily Gasoi & Sonya Robbins Hoffmann: For the Future, Arts Assessment Is Indispensable
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Mariale Hardiman: Asking the Right Questions for a Creative Future
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Education Advisers Say White House Has Ignored Them
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 2
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 3
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Report Roundup
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 5
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Independent Charters Aim to Elevate Their Status
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - In Devastated Puerto Rico, Reopening of Schools Is Far Off
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Teachers Found to Miss More Work In Regular Schools Than in Charters
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Math, Reading Hurdles Drawing Joint Scrutiny
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Growing Numbers of States Embrace Career Education
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: From Theory to Practice, Hurdles for Personalized Learning
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - New SAT Results Hard to Gauge
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 13
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - DeVos Expounds on Policy In One-on-One Interview
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - DeVos Gives Schools Options On Handling of Sexual Assault
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Watch List: High Court, 2017-18 Term
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 17
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Scenes From DeVos’ ‘Rethink School’ Tour
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 19
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - State ESSA Plans: One-Stop Guide
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 21
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Susan Riley: The ‘A’ in STEAM Completes the Puzzle
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Jay P. Greene: Arts Integration Is a Sucker’s Game
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Emily Gasoi & Sonya Robbins Hoffmann: For the Future, Arts Assessment Is Indispensable
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Letters
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - 27
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - Mariale Hardiman: Asking the Right Questions for a Creative Future
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - CW1
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - CW2
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - CW3
Education Week - October 4, 2017 - CW4