Big Kids, Little Kids, Forget the Cardboard Box!
Whether it’s at primary or secondary level learning, if children do not fit into the English, Science or Maths box, they are somehow lesser than those who do. Running out of time during the week to fit in maths revision or spelling and grammar tasks? It won’t be sport that’s capped to make time (this is important for the children’s health after all) it will be music or an arts subject that will get cut as it’s not regarded as important and it certainly won’t help meet those targets! There’s not a music SATs exam any way so it’s fine. Except, it’s not fine to the child who only feels confident or heaven forbid actually enjoys their time in class when they’re doing a non-academic subject. But what’s enjoyment compared with an outstanding SATs score anyway?
You want science?! Actual scientists have PROVEN that music education enhances the learning in other subjects. Yep that’s right! You want more children to understand trigonometry? Give them a piano. Need higher grades in an English class? Pass them a bassoon. Struggling with Quantum Physics (who doesn’t?) Here, have a glockenspiel.*
*Please note, instruments listed are not necessarily linked to success in the relative subject listed above. Well actually, maybe the bassoon can make Shakespeare a little easier to understand, who knows? Give it a bash next time you read through Romeo and Juliet.
The point I’m trying to make is that art subjects are unique in that they teach you so many things a textbook or exam paper simply can’t. Guess what? My revision technique was based on how I broke down and learnt a test piece or solo. I got full marks in my speaking and listening presentation because I was that used to performing I had the confidence to speak to a class of 30 people about why I hated Katie Price (yep that was a real subject I chose to speak on). Furthermore, like I’ve said in previous posts, being an ‘art kid’ has brought me discipline, social skills, imagination and CONFIDENCE, which in my opinion are just as important as academic skills.
Up until the age of nine I was a painfully shy child. I hated school services and nativities so much I made my mum sit somewhere where I couldn’t see her because I didn’t like the thought of people looking at me, especially people I knew. For those who know me now, this might come as a surprise because now I would say I’m a reasonably confident, assertive person. Getting involved in performing in drama productions or concerts gave me this confidence I didn’t learn in the classroom. For some children this confidence does come from an academic subject or sports, which is fantastic and I’m not saying music should take priority over everything else. I do understand that there are people that feel the same way about the arts as I do about football (absolute rubbish). All I’m asking is for art subjects to be taken just as seriously, because for some people this is a very serious career choice and if they’ve got the ambition and drive to do it, shouldn’t this be encouraged? You’d encourage a child to fulfil their dream of being a doctor, why not a musician?
I think Mrs May is more likely to support farmers more than musicians anyway considering her obsession with wheat.
All children are and always will be DIFFERENT, so why can’t we DIVERSIFY the curriculum and give all children a more EQUAL chance. Teach a book through performing a play. As you would fund a sports facility to come in and do a tennis or football session, why not put a little bit of money into funding a drama troupe to do a workshop (by the way, serious respect to the teachers out there that find the time to run extra-curricular art/drama/music clubs). I’m not looking at teachers to change this, you do more than expected of you anyway, it’s the ‘educational powers that be’ who need to take a good long look at what kind of education they’re promoting.
A child’s progress is not relative to how many points they can score on a spelling test, it’s how much that child takes away at the end of the day. By not caging them in a box, you may be teaching a child that could go on to be a music therapist working with children with special educational needs, a music teacher who changes the lives of other children, an award-winning actor, maybe even a politician that has a shred of imagination and creativity- now wouldn’t that be an interesting idea!