Art Makes You Smart

Motivational Trigger for Knowledge

How can you get kids to come to your Local Museum or Library?

For many education advocates, the arts supposedly increase test scores, generate social responsibility and turn around failing schools but research that demonstrates a causal relationship has been virtually nonexistent. Now the NY Times reports that with the opening of the random-assignment study (abstract) of school tours to the museum has determined that a strong causal relationship does in fact exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes.


Students who, by lottery, were selected to visit the museum on a field trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions. Moreover, most of the benefits are significantly larger for minority students, low-income students and students from rural schools – typically two to three times larger than for white, middle-class, suburban students – owing perhaps to the fact that the tour was the first time they had visited an art museum. Further research is needed to determine what exactly about the museum-going experience determines the strength of the outcomes.

How important is the structure of the tour? The size of the group? The type of art presented? ‘Clearly, however, we can conclude that visiting an art museum exposes students to a diversity of ideas that challenge them with different perspectives on the human condition,’ write the authors. ‘Expanding access to art, whether through programs in schools or through visits to area museums and galleries, should be a central part of any school’s curriculum.’

Classes for Children

Classes for Children

Simply put, once the motivational trigger for the quest of knowledge has been trigged, it has been triggered. Providing the students with greater access to a wider range of educational interactions means that motivational trigger is far more likely to be triggered. So museums, zoos, high tech manufacturing plants, behind the scenes look at the infrastructure of major facilities, ports, major construction sites, airports, even visits to universities by primary school students basically any place the reflects the end use of the education they are participating in and the possible rewards they can expect. Most children have an motivational trigger for a desired range of knowledge, the more experiences the more likely it is to be triggered.