Earlier this week, Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary, said that studying the arts holds people back, that it doesn’t give them options and doesn’t offer any long term job prospects. I couldn’t disagree more!
As a lecturer in a non-science subject, Creative Events Management, I passionately believe in the value of what we teach and the skills and abilities of our students. More importantly I believe that the greatest value of all is about how we teach it. That is, we teach from a basis of active business practice so that we are supporting students to become useful contributors to our economy and our culture.
The arts and the skills that are needed and used within the creative sectors are not only a critical part of our culture but are also a significant proportion of the UK economy. The skills of creativity, production (making ideas a reality), high performance teamwork, collaboration, problem solving, research, critical appreciation, reflection and social engagement are developed to a high level when one studies an arts field. To a level that is significantly higher than that supported in STEM subjects. I say this as a maths graduate and a STEM ambassador.
The point is that we need STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to create balanced, engaged students and ultimately productive citizens. In fact, I would be more satisfied with a model that included business, humanities and languages as part of a rounded education. None of these should be excluded as each engages different capacities of the brain and the soul.
And this is where the argument for the English Baccalaureate begins….and I have a problem with that too as it doesn’t necessarily give room for specialisation and depth of learning.
Even in the most scientific of classrooms I would suggest that creativity should be one of the primary skills in the pursuit of scientific endeavour. As Ken Robinson argues, creativity (a core artistic skill) is part of what makes us human and is a skill that enables us to develop and invent and innovate in any sector of work.
So Nicky Morgan, how can you say that the arts hold you back when they are actually the key to success?
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky