Politicians argue the cost of teaching art in schools outweighs its importance. However, I would argue that encouraging the creativity and expression of young people could really make the world a much better place.
When schools experience budget cuts, the arts are one of the first things to suffer. In fact, in a recent BBC survey of over 1,200 schools, it was found that 9/10 secondary schools in England are making cuts to their arts subjects, whether that be through cutting back on staff, lesson time or facilities in at least one creative arts subject. When this happens, the reason listed is always to favour time spent on ‘academic’ subjects, with many schools even laying down strict guidelines on what students can choose to study at GCSE and A level.
Following this, students have recently had had their freedom of choice limited to picking 2 or less of their favourite subjects after KS3, with limitations often placed on how many arts subjects they can choose. Many students at only aged 13/14 are pressured into non-creative lessons, being herded into the ongoing and outdated model of an ‘English Baccalaureate’ (choosing a language and humanity at GCSE). While academic subjects are certainly popular within certain students and can look great on your CV, I would argue that this is frustrating and damaging to the confidence and expression of our next generation.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
The world doesn’t just contain scientists and lawyers, journalists and accountants. The world is full of designers, actors, public speakers, advertisers, directors, writers and so much more, and I think education should reflect this. Young minds need to be nurtured and guided through education and every student should have the opportunity for personal expression and the freedom to be creative and inventive.
It is no mystery that students all learn differently; and while it is understandable that there’s no way to bend to every student’s needs, teaching through the arts can improve the learning of many different types of child. Teaching difficult concepts visually or through movement and drama can make them easier to understand. Art instruction can also help children develop their inventiveness, creativity, critical thinking, language and social skills, motor skills and so much more.
The younger generation are underestimated in how they can impact the world. They have fresh perspectives as well as new ideas and solutions to issues which can be fuelled through performance and art. Art can help students take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world, while also connecting them more thoroughly with the wider world and their own culture.