Learning with art

29th September 2000 at 01:00
THE report and leader on the expressive arts and Reggio (TESS, September 15) gave a gloomy picture of the place of arts in our education system. They drew my interest from two perspectives.

First, my four-year-old attends a newly-established nursery influenced by Reggio, and it is wonderful to witness the power of the arts bringing excitement and pleasure to his learning, but depressing to think how the education system beyond primary will effectively encourage him to lose this.

Second, from a professional point of view, the idea that the arts provide routes to learning throughout life is fundamental to my work in the museums and galleries sector, so can the principles underlying Reggio be applied to lifelong learning?

To some extent, museums and galleries can compensate for the loss of arts based learning referred to in the leader comment, but we are challenged, not only by the educational focus on"more essential ingredients", but also by the way in which the experience of learning at secondary level turns inwards towards the school. The advantage of the museum and art gallery as an environment offering a different stimulus to learning is difficult to grasp, it seems. It's little wonder, then, that the idea that a pursuit of the arts is elitist and marginal should still have currency - the education system instils it.

We have a lot to learn from continental countries on the degree of value they place on arts and culture. It is stated in the article that we cannot import Reggio - presumably our climate does not enable it. On the other hand, is developing "our own distinctive approach" just another way of taking for granted and consolidating our inadequacies, and of nurturing another generation immobilised through lack of creativity?

Peter Stott

Main Street, Thornhill, Stirlingshire

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