In a previous article I posed the question, "What's the purpose of education?" Most of us would agree at least in some way that the purpose of education is to ensure that every child fulfils their potential. And if so, the practice of education must ensure that it is closely connected to the demands of the economic, cultural and social landscape.
The arts is the fastest growing sector with new figures revealing that the UK’s Creative Industries are now worth more than £84 billion per year to the UK economy. Yet 90% of secondary schools are cutting creative subjects according to a BBC survey in January 2018 and usually because of 'an increased emphasis on core subjects.'
Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey said:
The creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, with British musicians, artists, fashion brands and films immediately recognisable in nations across the globe. Growing at almost twice the rate of the wider economy and worth a staggering £84 billion a year, our Creative Industries are well and truly thriving and we are determined to ensure its continued growth and success.
Begs the question - are we cutting our cloth accordingly?
Is it productive that we are cutting funding, time and resources on creative education whilst the economic requirement for creative skill has never been increasing at a more rapid rate? I would argue that it's not. Especially if there is a cost effective solution.
Academic immersion is important. It helps develop cognitive thinking, information processing and reflective practice all of which are vital components for children.
Artistic application is also important. It helps develop confidence, resilience and creativity as well as putting core skills into an action oriented context. Academia and the arts must be taught in tandem and in balance.
In our modern society, success is becoming increasingly dependent on academic and artistic alignment, not academic skills alone.
Therefore I would posit that the Arts are not more important than Academia but rather of equal importance. When we go for a job interview or to present an idea; in order to meet our goals of convincing the audience, the person on the other side of the table is often looking for two defined skills.
a. Do you have the technical and theoretical understanding of the subject at hand?
b. Do you have the confidence and practical skill to articulate your understanding in a manner which connects with the audience, (e.g. student peers, managers, customers, colleagues, etc.)
Academics without the Arts
In education, we've all had or seen teachers that have an abundance of subject knowledge, but failed to connect well with the pupils, so it takes longer to achieve the desired outcome. I remember I had a really technical maths teacher, who's knowledge was phenomenal, - however, he lacked the artistic alignment of making his knowledge connect. In turn, I would get a clearer understanding from Mr Carden who would break the learning down into simple steps, a little bit like a dance routine and in a way which I understood and enjoyed.
I'll never forget the day at football training when I learnt maths in a way that connected. My coach Joseph stopped the session and said;
Jazz how many team-mates and opponents are in the yellow zone?" (2 and 3 respectively I replied) and how many teammates and opponents are in the green zone (3 and 2). So where should your pass go? It's all maths!
he explained with a delightful smile. In that very moment, I learnt that I could view maths in practical terms. I also discovered the necessity of demonstrating both academic knowledge aligned with artistic application in order to be successful in any chosen field, be it sports or mathematics.
Whether learning Music, English, Science or learning a new language it requires academic acquisition (what we present) as well as artistic application (how we present it).
To help children fulfil their greatest potential we have to align what we teach to what is required in our modern economy. We must give our children the learning environments which sensibly fuse academic understanding with artistic application. We need to give pupils the variety of tools which develops cognition, confidence and creativity in a way which truly connects.
Founder and CEO
J and C Education - supporting primary schools to provide every child with an excellent and well-rounded education.