Sunday, January 08, 2006

Are arts programs better than science programs for at-risk youth?

I heard an interesting NPR report today where they were discussing the trials and tribulations of an arts program for at-risk youth in Chicago. They made an off-hand comment that some researcher had found that arts programs did a better job than science or athletic programs for helping at-risk youth.

I thought this was very interesting.

If one of the main challenges for poor kids are limited social capital, and difficulty building social capital, then an arts program could be more effective than a science or athletic program. If key social skills include 1) showing up on time, 2) learning to play well with others, 3) dealing with adversity, 4) public speaking, then I see how a program emphasizing public, group performances (putting on a play) is more effective than one teaching math skills or running a sports team.


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