The answer may be both yes and no. Art in schools is often a way of maintaining a high social status, but it can also be a way to build skills. Art can be an outlet of creativity that, for the most part, makes more sense in high-stress situations like social media-driven careers, as opposed to more casual ones like family and friends. Students with an affinity for art in schools and the arts in general may not find their lives disrupted by it, but those who are less social and more introverted may prefer more solitary projects that they can take part in.
Does work in the arts make me smarter? This is almost certainly the case for the young professionals who go to art schools, but work in the arts is not necessarily correlated with more intelligence. Some studies have reported correlation, others have shown an inverse association. One of the more recent studies reported that young art students who did not have a great history in art (as indicated by their lack of work in art and art history or their relatively low level of interest in art, but were in no rush to take it up) had on average lower scores on tests of intelligence than young art students who had a great history of art. The reason is not completely clear, but the authors speculated that in contrast to the more casual art students, the art students who had more of an existing interest in art and who had already had an enjoyable career may actually have had more opportunity to engage in a rigorous artistic practice before starting the course; so the arts were a way of getting their brains on the job. However, a study by a more recent author found no correlation between art history and intelligence; while there was an inverse correlation between a history background and performance on an IQ test, that was largely in the area of mathematical ability, not creativity. One can’t help wonder if, just because there was an inverse correlation, that there weren’t a lot of other variables at play in shaping the data.
Does art in schools enhance my social skills? The answer to this question, especially for students from lower-income families, is not entirely clear. The idea of studying art on top of being a good student is not in itself to be dismissed, but the evidence suggests that students who have a greater interest in art have more success in high-stakes situations as adults. A study by Kosslyn and colleagues (2012) found that social skills were better in high-achieving art students, a finding consistent with that of Smith and colleagues (2013). While art in
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