by Max Brantley
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.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.
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