Art for education's sake

29th September 2000 at 01:00
WHAT direction is education taking, when academic subjects have absolute priority to the detriment of the rest of the curriculum?

As the pressure to gain "good" test results ever increases, what effect is it having, and will it have, on those skills that do not feature in the league tables?

There is no guidance given on how much time should be set aside for art, or any other creative subject. I know of a school that has halved its art timetable, ultimately devaluing this creative subject in the eyes of the pupils.

I am a newly-qualified art teacher, working in a middle school, after many years as an education-based artist-in-residence. During this year I have seen pupils who are not academically able succeed in relation to their peers in their art work.

I have seen pupils thrive on completing a piece of work of which they were proud, and I have seen pupils who fit awkwardly into the school society use the art rom as a "refuge".

I also recognise that people need a creative outlet, an opportunity to express themselves. Just because art does not improve your test results it does not mean it has no value or purpose.

I became a teacher because I believed in "education" and not just teaching. I recognise that you can teach well and just deliver facts, but good education should make you think. The curriculum is becoming increasingly geared towards the delivery of a young adult who can spell and knows what a complex sentence is, but has no imagination.

I recognise the contribution that art and artists make to our global society, but do our head- teachers? At a time when at last Britain is valuing modern and contemporary art by creating the magnificent Tate Modern, I view with great sadness the diminishing time given to this subject in our schools today.

T Louise Wood

4 The Croft

Bellingham, Northumberland


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