What do you think is the most important subject at school? You are probably thinking the calculations in Maths, developing essay writing techniques in English or learning about chemical reactions and the human body in the Sciences. Why not the act of playing a guitar in Music, painting a portrait in Art, or acting in a play in Drama?
Over the last few years, there have been major budget cuts in schools all around the country for the Arts in the school curriculum, with the reputation of the Arts gradually fading away alongside it. The crucial idea of collaboration and accountability as part of a team, two of the many benefits of pursuing the Arts, are slowly becoming a myth to school students. A survey by the Guardian in 2013 showed that 80% of teachers were working in schools that were being severely affected by funding cuts, with more than one in ten respondents saying that art, music, design and drama is no longer offered at their school as an extra-curricular activity, never mind an aspect of the curriculum.
The main issue that is neglected by many is the idea that the Arts isn’t just an outlet of stress and a joyful activity like most people think- it is fundamentally important for the success of school kids in their future studies and careers. Apart from the fact that it increases one’s creativity, which is acknowledged by most people, the skills they learn from the Arts conveniently aid one’s academic achievement.
As weird as it sounds, this isn’t just some phrase I picked out from the air to make my point seem valid- there are studies and statistics that demonstrate this. At Feversham Primary School, the implementation of a mandatory six hours of music a week for every child a few years ago caused results to improve drastically. In Maths, the school was 2.4 points behind the national average in 2011 and is now 6.5 above it.
Psychologically, this actually makes a lot of sense. Certain aspects of the Arts, like Art and Design for example, help kids to develop their visual-spatial skills, bringing unforeseen benefits. School children, whether that is primary school or high school students, need to be able to learn and process information by means other than text and numbers.
This can be made highly applicable to university students, who don’t have the capability to copy down a whole lecture worth of knowledge as the lecturer breezes past the crucial information they need to pass their exams at the end of the year. The Arts play a huge beneficial role in one’s ability to quickly process that visual information and make choices based on them.
Don’t get me wrong. It is perfectly understandable if you love doing calculations and working with numbers or live for analysing that famous book you have once heard about and decided to read. I am not trying to persuade you to take up the Arts as a lifestyle. However, it is time for people to start seeing the benefits of the Arts, and stop ignoring it in schools across the country.