Your University of Arkansas at work: Field trips are good | Arkansas Blog

Your University of Arkansas at work: Field trips are good

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GOOD FOR YOU: UA research proves visit to Crystal Bridges educational.
  • GOOD FOR YOU: UA research proves visit to Crystal Bridges educational.


Do tell. Members of the faculty of the Walton-funded school of education "reform" at the University of Arkansas are going to join Alice Walton, creator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, at a news conference to announce results of a scientific survey that proves field trips to Crystal Bridges are good.

This sounds like the kind of thing the reformers would ridicule if the National Education Association announced it or a federal grant had gone to study it.

Having been to Crystal Bridges; having sung its praises widely; having promoted a trip there by out-of-state visitors who spent additional money in Bentonville; having been the person who dreamed up the Arkansas Times bus trips to the museum, I feel qualified to say that it doesn't take a rocket scientist, or academic research, to prove that visits to this museum — or just about any decent art museum — are beneficial.

UA news release today:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Researchers in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas surveyed nearly 11,000 students and compared responses between those who took a field trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and those who did not. They found that students who took the field trips learned more about art, demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy, and developed more of a taste for art museums compared to students who did not go on the field trip. The results offer implications for everyone from parents to policymakers.

What: News conference on research results

When: 9:30-10:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 16

Where: Great Hall at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

Speakers: Alice Walton, chair of the museum’s board of directors; Jay Greene, University of Arkansas professor of education reform; Brian Kisida, senior research associate in the University of Arkansas department of education reform; Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director; Anne Kraybill, Crystal Bridges school programs manager

But good on them. At its core, the message is the same thing I say to university administrators determined to strangle the liberal arts in favor of more practical pursuits like studying how to improve the Walmart profit margins in the Walton business school or studying how to bust teacher unions in the Walton "reform" school or studying how to apply science to chicken growing in the Tyson poultry department. Broader education in even the most esoteric of fields — even !art! — has beneficial consequences. A college classmate of mine got a Ph.D. in philosophy that propelled him to ocean-going yacht owner status as a manager of mutual funds. I wish I'd gone on the field trip he took.

PS — Here's another one for the education reformers. Survey health of students who eat spinach against those who don't. Do the Waltons grow spinach? No? Well then how about those who shop at Walmart versus those who shop at Target?


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