A blog in response to this YouTube video from The Equity Young Members Committee: 

 

Arts Education in UK schools is dying.

And if you know me at all, you know how passionate I am about this topic.

I was first introduced to the Arts when I was in my first primary school and the Oxfordshire Music Centre teachers made the rounds and I picked up my first instrument. I was hooked. This thing called music, how it was made, how I could make it… if it wasn’t for that introduction in school I wouldn’t have gone through musical evolution to be playing my oboe and being a self-taught guitarist and a soprano singer.

Drama came next when I landed my first principle role aged between 5-7 in the school Christmas musical. Then the church nativities… goodness, I love drama.

The Arts (Music, Theatre, Art, Dance, Performing Arts) have been excluded from the new English Baccalaureate (or EBacc) that the UK government are introducing into schools. Now, this makes me a little more than mad.

 Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.

Joseph M. Calahan: Director of Cooperate Communications, Xerox Corporation

I would like to start my argument for the Arts and Arts Education by saying this: the Arts offer more than just learning to act, painting, learning instruments; they offer significantly useful transferable skills. And transferable skills in the workplace (and in life) and vital.

Examples of transferable skills gained from the Arts:

  • Confidence
  • Communication Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Team Work
  • Hard Work
  • Public Speaking
  • Diction
  • Projection
  • Working to deadlines
  • Research Skills
  • Motivating People
  • Educating Others

Now, you can’t tell me that these skills aren’t vital in the workplace can you?

From personal experience, if I had not been exposed to the Arts; I would not have given testimony in church or led assemblies or worked with children or learnt my instruments. If I had not been exposed to the Arts I would be more secluded than I am already. And if it hadn’t been for that one Music teacher when I was 13 years old… I wouldn’t have picked up an oboe, and I wouldn’t have joined the orchestra, jazz band, folk band and two choirs. If it hadn’t been for that one Music teacher, I doubt I would have ended up studying Drama at university. That’s how important the Arts are to me.

But I have more proof.

There have been many, many studies done into Arts Education and it’s importance and how Children and Young People benefit from the Arts. Here are a couple of those studies that jumped out at me:

In 2002, a report by the Arts Education Partnership revealed that school children exposed to drama, music and dance are often more proficient at reading, writing and maths.

A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation called “A Portrait of the Visual Arts” argues that art education does more than just give students a creative outlet. It can actually help connect them to the larger world, ultimately improving community cohesion.

A 2011 study called “Reinvesting in Arts Education” found that integrating arts with other subjects can help raise achievement levels.

Now, these are all pretty big claims. And if you want more than you can visit <http://www.onlinecolleges.net/10-salient-studies-on-the-arts-in-education/&gt; to have a look. I know that most of these studies have taken place in America, but surely we can use them to realise the importance of the Arts in the UK Educational System.

The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic… music, dance, painting and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.

William Bennett: Former US Secretary of Education

I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepared them to become confident young men and women.

Richard W. Riley: Former US Secretary of Education

The Arts have the potential to unlock creativity; they have the opportunity to create confident young men and women.

Before I was a singer or an actor or a speaker, I was so shy I didn’t speak up in class uninvited. I would only talk when the teacher forced my hand and said “Louise, what do you think?”. However, since I began my climb to understanding that I AM a musician, and I AM an actor and that I HAVE a voice, I know how much the Arts and Arts Education have shaped me.

I applied to do Drama at one university. My other applications were for Childhood Studies or Primary Teaching QTS; but at one university, I applied to do Drama. And boy, am I glad I did. I have grown in confidence, and I have grown as a performer. I can read aloud with clarity and diction. I can analyse English texts through a drama eye. I harmonise when in my church congregation, I give talks to primary school children. I created a YouTube channel.

And I wouldn’t have done any of that if I had not been exposed to the Arts from a young age. So please, UK Government, know that when you scrap the Arts and think they’re not important… these subjects offer more skills and more hard work than you can imagine.

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