Off Topic Messages

The Arts in Schools

Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:15 pm

Children have been political pawns for decades. One government says that their education should be like "this", another says it should be like "that". One says coursework is the way forward, one says exams are for the best. One can only wonder how much of this is said through a firm belief of what is right or wrong in the classroom and how much is said to score points.

Either way, the Arts are going to be given short shrift in the future both within schools and within research budgets. They are deemed to be unimportant by Michael Gove, the Education Minister in the UK. In the UK the newly formed EBacc (which sound more like food poisoning than a qualification) will only measure attainment in English, maths, two sciences and history or geography. Gove has been very vocal about how unimportant he views the arts. The following footage from a radio programme is well worth a listen (and a hoot!):

In The Guardian today, the director of The Tate gallery says the following:

"We all have an interest in giving our children a broad education. Of course, they need literacy and numeracy. But they also need to develop their imaginations, and exercise their visual skills and emotional creativity. Learning through and about the arts enables young people to make, learn and express themselves. This is fundamental in achieving success in school and in later life." (Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, in today's Guardian).

We can but hope that this type of view is taken on board by the government before it's too late, and before we churn out children who are all qualified in the same things without their natural aptitudes being allowed to develop and blossom.

I'm not totally sure of the situation in the USA for it seems more complicated than that in the UK, but my understanding is that the arts are being hardest hit when funding cuts mean that "something's gotta give" in the budget. It's interesting that the current season of Glee has decided to incorporate this into it the overarching narrative of season four, extending the comments it made about it in a former season, in order to publicise that the arts (and therefore our children) are suffering with the current climate. The sad thing about this is that the programme has clearly lost the impetus and clout that it had three years ago, and the only people watching are those that agree with what the show is saying anyway.