At our Go 4 Gold event in December, we asked people to:
“Tell us your best and worst arts experience at school”
We didn’t discriminate. We merely asked people to respond to the question as honestly as they could and share their memories on post-it notes…
These were the BEST comments:
“Expressing my feelings on paper.”
“Being introduced by an English teacher to the work of Proust, Beckett, Sartre etc, etc.”
“Involvement in a large scale professional production was amazing.”
“My year 7 tutor who gave me the freedom to adapt my own and other’s work.”
“Learning to devise.”
“I learned that talent comes from the heart and not the head.”
“My first experience of physical theatre.”
“Full marks at GCSE art.”
“Olympic Project where we made papier mache models.”
“Using pastels. I drew a pretty flower.”
“I drew a leopard and it looked really good.”
These were the WORST comments:
“Go away and make up a play. Aged 11. RUBBISH!”
“My year 5 & 6 music teacher.”
“Music lessons that involved nothing more than jingling a triangle to nothing other than Beatles songs.”
“Forgetting my lines in the school play.”
“Playing the piano. I was terrible.”
“The lessons were too short.”
“Going to an all boys school which is all about sport, doesn’t mix with someone who’s creative.”
“A god awful tie!”
As I write this, Education Secretary Michael Gove has just made a u-turn on the introduction of the English Baccalaureate and for now, creative subjects in the National Curriculum remain intact. While we accept that our survey was preaching to the church of positive and widespread arts activity to continue to thrive in schools, our comments demonstrate on a personal level at least, the positive nourishing quality that arts education brings to an individual.
Like anything, when delivery is bad, it is uninspiring leaving the participant cold and unreflective of the possibilities that can come when delivery is GOOD.
But when it is good it can be platform for personal expression; the first port of call to a world of the best creative thinkers of all time, an opportunity to develop skills in industry settings and for non-academic individuals to achieve.
The arts are as vital to a person’s development as anything else and this is why it should remain and be celebrated within schools.
So my paraphrased message to Mr Gove is this. “You turn if you want. The arts are not for turning.”
Actually that last bit sounded better in my head, but you get the drift.