Sandwiched between a sister who graduated in Chemistry and a brother off to study Physics, my English Literature degree seems to stick out like a sore thumb. Being the odd one out, the age-old debate between the arts and sciences seems to swallow me up, along with my books. With the economic funds in favour of ‘traditional’ academic subjects and questioning the ‘worth’ of arts degrees, I’m often left thinking I’ve put my pens in the wrong pot.
But we mustn’t ignore the importance of the arts in a rapidly changing world – a world that demands a strong creative outlook and independence of mind. Waiting in the wings and hoping to keep art at the heart of education, the new chair of the Arts Council England (ACE) recently announced a major investigation into creative education. This aims to examine how best to “unlock every child’s creative potential”; a privilege I’ve had access to throughout my education.
We mustn’t ignore the importance of the arts in a rapidly changing world
Drama lessons in particular support the endless opportunities presented by creative learning. The moment a child steps onto the stage and into another person’s shoes, a whole new world of interpretation is within reach. The spotlight encourages collaboration, forming a community of learners who perform alongside one another. My drama teacher used to tell us that even the smallest role shone just as brightly as the star of the show. The stage makes space for every student, regardless of their strength or ability. The sharing of ideas and transferral of skills are the core elements of teamwork – needed not only on the stage but in the workplace too.
Sharing the limelight with others allows students to cross borders as they explore their roles as learners. Often my drama teacher would discard traditional instructing and instead jump into character too. Rather than passively processing information, we were encouraged to become directors of our own education. This active approach has come in handy at university – with few contact hours and a lot of spare time, taking charge of my learning is crucial to finding success.
The stage makes space for every student, regardless of their strength or ability
The skill of extending our imagination beyond set boundaries is one which I believe begins in the classroom. By allowing students to discover hidden avenues of learning, knowledge can be found beneath the surface of initial observation. If this curiosity is nurtured, it is possible for children to explore pathways not yet imagined. As Einstein said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.