Monthly Archives: September 2012

ART – the fourth ‘r’

Interesting article in TES (Times Education Supplement) this week in support of the need for art as a fundamental part of our curriculum.

This is timely since art and design are under some threat of being diminished with Michael Gove’s talk of the ‘EBacc’ and now the ‘ABacc’. And a revision of the curriculum to focus on skills that are more pertinent to ‘work’ and more suited to achieving a place at a Russell Group University.

There is something really funny about the government in the UK thinking that the creative industries are not a key part of the British economy.  As mentioned in the article “creative industries now employ more than 2 million people in the UK and this is forecast to grow”. Not to mention, the value that creative thinking for the future.  It is no secret that we are teaching students to develop an understanding of a curriculum that is likely to have little relevance to their future employment because we don’t actually know what these future jobs will be.

Directing the curriculum toward the needs of industry are likely to promote a sense of dismay in young people .  This dismay is also linked to their sense of unknown and their dismay at the lack of employment related to their own areas of expertise.  This has provided devastating consequences in the classroom with student motivation lowering as they realise that there aren’t many options and that they are bystanders in a  government agenda that is interested in promoting an education that facilitates big business and current industry.  What about their dreams and desires as they might relate to the development of their own world and their own ideas.

Maxine Greene presented this idea clearly many years ago in her  essay titled ‘Art and Imagination’ stating,

“Young people find themselves described as ‘human resources’ rather than as persons who are centers of choice and evaluation.  It is suggested that young people are to be moulded in the service of technology and the market, no matter who they are.  Yet, as many are now realizing, great numbers of our young people will find themselves unable to locate satisfactory jobs, and the very notion of “all the children” and even of human resources carries with its deceptions of all kinds.  Perhaps it is no wonder that the dominant mood in many classrooms is one of passive reception.” (p.379)

What we do need to teach them are the thinking skills to enable them to cope with the situations that they will encounter (or that they desire for their own success) and do so with creative ingenuity, thus, not only preparing them for a future of employment but life.  Amongst many subjects Art & Design already have an understanding of these critical skills and are ready and waiting to be teach them — if only the government will give us the opportunity to do so!


Have a read for yourself and see what you think.

I couldn’t agree more that art should be the fourth ‘r’ – an essential component of the education curriculum.

Greene, Maxine. 1995. ‘Art and Imagination: Reclaiming the Sense of Possibility,’ The Phi Delta Kappan. Vol. 76, No.5, pp.378-382.