Fighting out of the Fringes: Education, education, education.
After Michael Gove’s recent rethink on the £162m that was due to be slashed from sports in schools surely art, drama and music teachers have cause to be worried. The cuts will need to come from somewhere and these pursuits may look like soft options in an age dominated by discussions of GDP, making everything bigger and consuming more and more. The 29.6% cut to Arts Council England could well be reflected in schools’ budgets as someone somewhere may incorrectly deem that studying economics and maths is all that matters in this country’s drive to keep up with the GDP growth Joneses. There is a ray of light though in the Prime Minister’s nod to a “happiness index” in line with the Bhutanese, whose Buddhist way of life sees that smiles go further than flash cars and big houses. This equation isn’t a shock to most of us but it’s a tense wait to see where this government will put the cash in a new school system.
Studying theatre in schools aids happiness: it’s an educationally active lesson that is about playing around with who we are and who we could be in a safe and controlled environment. We make mistakes, we laugh, we learn. We sometimes rehearse the mistakes of fictional others from famous scripts and judge what we would do differently and similarly. We are up on our feet, communicating to and working with friends and with peers who we don’t consider to be our friends – one of the most important skills for later life in whatever sphere. In what arena of the business world does the successful person not play a “role” as well as they can?
In talking to students they more often than not say drama is one of their favourite subjects – who are we as adults to steer them down the route of subjects they enjoy less because we perceive they will earn more in later life? I may not need to be worried – the cuts may leave schools to work out their own priorities without government meddling but I doubt this will be the case. Cuts are inevitable but let’s consider our priorities in a calm and thoughtful way: art, music and drama are about culture, the world and expressing things we can’t put into words and numbers. Ultimately advancing humankind as a result. They can be about expressing a deep sadness or exhilarating joy in difficult and beautiful ways. Our children need to be given access to those possibilities just as much, if not more, than being shown how to exercise to avoid health problems in later life. If the government are going to rethink cutting sports then surely the arts should be beyond safe. This would boost my happiness index no end.Tagged in: Fighting out of the Fringes, schools, theatre
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