Carnival Of Homeschooling

Building creative curricula is the theme of this week’s Carnival Of Homeschooling, which is hosted by Consent of the Governed.

Eclectic Momma shares her history lessons in Bizarre and Unusual Field Trips: Cemetery.

Field trips really are educational

Visiting an art museum improved children’s knowledge about art, critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance, concludes a University of Arkansas study. It broadened their minds. Benefits were particularly large for students from rural areas and from high-poverty schools.

Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Susan Tobin
War News from Mexico

Artist: Richard Caton Woodville , 1825 – 1855 

When the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Arkansas in 2011, many school groups wanted to tour.

Researchers created matched pairs among the applicant groups based on similarity in grade level and other demographic factors, and then randomly assigned school groups to receive a tour that semester or at a later time. Students in selected schools took a tour lasting roughly one hour, during which they viewed and participated in discussions about five different paintings.

Asked to write a short essay on a painting they hadn’t seen before, the field trippers “noticed and described more details.”

 To measure historical empathy, researchers employed a series of statements and asked students to agree or disagree, including, “I have a good understanding of how early Americans thought and felt.”  Tolerance was also measured with statements to which students could express agreement or disagreement, ranging from “People who disagree with my point of view bother me,” to “I think people can have different opinions about the same thing.”

Students who toured on a field trip were more likely than expected to return to the art museum with their family.

More than half of schools throughout the country eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11 according to an American Association of School Administrators survey.

Art and music haven't vanished

The National Report Card on the Arts finds little change in eighth graders’ access to music or visual arts instruction from 1997 to 2008 or in their musical and artistic knowledge. From USA Today:

Gather up a group of eighth-graders, pop in a CD of George Gershwin’s seminal Rhapsody in Blue and turn up the volume.

Then ask: In those first few seconds, what keening, soaring, note-bending instrument do you hear?

When the federal government put this question to thousands of eighth-graders in 1997, only about half knew it was a clarinet. When they tried again last year, the results were the same.

Middle-school administrators polled as part of the tests say students are just as likely to have received regular instruction in music and arts in 2008 as in 1997. That suggests that No Child Left Behind, the federal effort begun in 2002 to increase the basic math and reading skills of children, may not have adversely affected middle schoolers’ instruction time in the arts, as many critics worried.

More students are getting regular music instruction, but fewer say they’ve gone on a field trip to an art museum or art show. On the other hand, 80 percent say they paint or draw regularly in school.