Arts in Education

Part II: Value of the Arts

Of course, there are always going to be extremes of such cases amongst the teachers and staff working hard to help all students in any way they can, but there seems to be a disturbing trend in Academies and various schools cutting courses down to the bare minimum of what the government deems the core subjects. A sinister shadow lurking in the background indicative of a wider, polluting attitude. At the previous college and Sixth Form I attended, from age 11 to 18, my youngest sister and her friends have reported that the school has cut the majority of the arts and other ‘soft subjects from the curriculum. You can no longer choose Drama, Media, Design Technology and even in some cases subjects like History being dissuaded against as a subject to pick. I can only imagine that Art itself has not been cut from my old school purely because the Head of Art at the time, who was an inspiring teacher whom I got along with very well, was not a force to be reckoned with and had been fighting tooth and nail for years to try and secure more funding from the cut arts budgets to fix our derelict, leaky art studios and ancient equipment. Although I have a limited view in cases of my own experiences, similar events and attitudes have been reported across many schools including another academy I worked part time in and my current University now.

Why do we in this system, place more value on subjects that are not within the arts? Or why so called ‘soft subjects’, as reiterated to me by a cutting poster from the governments education department hung on the University transition officers wall and faced me ominously as I sat waiting, are demeaned and made to feel worthless in environments which are increasingly more business and money focussed? Honestly, it baffles me that in an institute of learning some of the background attitudes are ones of limitation rather than vision and expansion, to seek out and try and experiment with all subjects and knowledge. All subjects are equally valuable in themselves when not placed against some soulless money chart. How on earth can you have invention without the creativity of innovation? Whilst many of these subjects are patronised as ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects we fail to remember that they are, in their own right, challenging and interesting, providing different approaches and perspectives to the world and how we can approach it with the knowledge it provides. You can be moved to social and political action equally by a lecture in Law as you can by an artwork, film, book or theatre production, they just grant different expressions and perspectives for better and more knowledgeable articulation of your ideas. You can change and affect the world in all kinds of different ways, ground breaking can also be a small achievement on your behalf.

Published by Rebecca Elise