Stop Dismissing Creative Subjects

The recommended theme for today’s Blogtober post was education – and since something has been bugging me ever since the press release landed in my (day job) e-mails, this seems like the perfect time to bring it up.

The title of said press release was about how 1/3 of parents in Britain think that their kids should be learning Chinese instead of the standard French, German or Spanish. I am fully in favour of adding as many languages to curriculums in our schools as possible, but that might be in part because I am a language-oriented person. I feel like a lot of my feelings towards this press release may stem from not being a science/mathematically minded individual.

Read further into the press release and it went so much further than languages – it went on to speak about the significant proportion of parents who thought that religious studies and ICT should be scrapped from our school days as well  – wait for it – media studies, drama and music.

While I don’t agree that religious studies should be scrapped – I think that misunderstanding is the cause of the majority of our racism – and I am surprised to see practical computing subjects being given then boot, the ones that touched me most were drama and music. Creative subjects coming under fire, while the sciences appear to be left untouched (although this may be the way that the press release was written).  I have heard the creative subjects come under fire before, for a number of reasons:

  • You’re probably not going to hit the big time so why waste your time when you could be learning something better.
  • You can do drama or painting or music as a hobby at home so why should you waste your school time that could be better spent learning more useful subjects.
  • Performing/drawing/painting is not a real job.
  • It’s not fair on those who aren’t talented/don’t come from wealthy families who can afford equipment/tuition.
  • A lot of kids just aren’t interested in creative subjects, they’d rather learn real skills.
  • Drama/music/art is not a serious subject.

I think you get the idea.

A lot of the complaints surround the subjects not being ‘serious’ and I find that incredibly upsetting. For many the creative subjects are their passion and they take them very seriously.

With regards to not everybody having access to creative subjects at home – surely that’s all the more reason to keep them in the curriculum. You don’t necessarily need to be able to play Mozart pieces on the piano to get stuck in to a music class – you just need to be as open to learning as you are in any other class.

With regards to it not being fair on those who are disinterested or lack ability in that field – nobody is fighting this fight for those who struggle with maths.

Just a hobby? How is art or drama or playing an instrument any more of a hobby than reading and writing? You don’t see them thinking about taking English off the menu.

To those who say that you’ll never make a career out of a creative subject – that may be so, but I was told by teachers and my family that I would never be able to earn money from writing and yet here I am, newspaper reporter and blogger.

The creative subjects are about providing a safe space to explore, to develop and to work things out. For many the creative subjects are therapeutic. That’s okay. By having such subjects in the curriculum children and teenagers can learn in a very independent way, often without even realising that they are learning.

So here is my wish to you all – to stop throwing creative subjects under the bus because you don’t know who is depending on them to make their academic career bearable or successful. To many the creative subjects can be life changing, in much the same way science can be to others. This is not about defending certain subjects as being better than others, but as recognising every subject taught in schools as equally important.

I can totally get behind getting rid of formal exams, however.

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