“A good day for art and culture” said artist Jeremy Deller, to the news that an Art History A-Level will continue to be available for students in the UK. He went on to say “The study of art history is the study of humanity … a discipline that (is) about looking at things, rather than just rote learning of dates and quotations”. Crossfields Institute is developing an Erasmus+ funded diploma for 14-19 year olds, which seeks to integrate studies across disciplines, and go further and deeper than rote learning.
According to Mark Brown at the Guardian, the creative side of education has been systematically pushed aside, resulting in fewer pupils taking up creative subjects at GCSE level. A recent study into the topic, the Warwick commission report, estimates that the creative arts sector is valued at £76,9bn, or to put it another way: 5% of the British economy.
Dr. Kenneth Gibson, Head of Academic Engagement for Crossfields Institute, had this to say:
“One of the major findings from the Warwick Report, as reported here by Mark Brown, states that white middle-class adults continue to make up the bulk of the audience for the arts and culture which they have produced themselves and which ultimately is a reflection of their own values. It also tells us implicitly that the humanities and arts subjects in our education systems do not matter to those in government and this is one of the reasons for the downward trend in the participation of the bulk of the population in most cultural and artistic activities. As the report says: ‘Creativity, culture and the arts are being systematically removed from the education system.’
One of the reasons for this, as Sarah Churchwell says in a recent article, is the widely view held ‘among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities’ that the arts are of no value and because of their constant questioning of ‘what are the arts for’ there is a gradual diminishing of their importance for society as a whole. It is possible to suggest that these individuals have little or no understanding for a creative education and need to consider that everything from poetry, painting, literature and all arts and humanities based subjects are the basis for a balanced and enlightened education and its positive impact on society as a whole.
As many past and present educators have argued, the creative arts and humanities should be firmly anchored in the curriculum at all levels of the education system from birth to death. In his report for the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, Ken Robinson suggests that a creative education should contain, among other things the cultivation of imagination where ‘imaginative activity is the process of generating something original: providing an alternative to the expected, the conventional, or the routine’. Thus it should be innovative and encourage individuals to think and act in creative and imaginative ways to solve problems and view the world from many different perspectives. Therefore if we value the enrichment of lives; want to give new insights into everything including business models and politics; foster social justice and equality; teach people to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions and develop empathy then art, literature, music and all forms of creativity need to be deeply embedded in all our education systems and not be just for the select few.”