The following is a guest post by Anthony Briscoe, in response to this article (about the decline of arts subjects in schools)
I find it a boring trope that the arts are not important to a child’s education. I think that is fundamentally false. For example, I have dyslexia, something I have found in common with several people in the arts (and other professions). Dyslexia isn’t just not being able to read or write; like many things, it is a spectrum. It mainly affects the way the brain understands sequences and how an individual’s brain decodes those into action (cognitively or physically, hence its often close association with dyspraxia).
I find spelling difficult at times and written communication can be sometimes also be a difficulty (depending on its structure and rules, such as an essay as opposed to a poem). Of course, I’ve gotten better with age and practise, but as a child it was a huge hurdle. I found it a struggle to understand why I couldn’t do what others could do properly. I was getting told off for not spelling correctly or my writing being a little squiffy. Not only did it affect my confidence, but it also became a frustration. Why couldn’t I do what others seemed to find so simple? I remember how that felt.
I started becoming a bit despondent in class. Information didn’t seem to sink in, I couldn’t exactly write notes or anything, and still struggle a bit today. However, I was introduced to art lessons and school plays, craft etc, then things just clicked. Suddenly, I understood. The creative process helped my brain take in information and with support from my parents and school, I managed to use creativity and the arts to help bridge the gaps in my learning. I still use the techniques I used then, today. Often, I draw when listening to a lot of information, as it helps me take it all in and I can remember what I was hearing at the time, by looking at the picture. The arts have given me so much; confidence in myself, determination and made want to learn and do more with my education and life (it fills several sections of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; physiological, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation). My experience is not special, there are millions of people out there and children currently in education who, if the current decimation of the arts continues, won’t be as lucky as me. They will be denied the opportunity to be shown a different paradigm of learning, understanding or expression of frustration.
The outcome of the arts isn’t always quantifiable, in the way the education system seems so geared towards these days. It teaches more than what can be graded (the hidden curriculum).
Thanks to the arts and obviously the support I received from the places of education I attended (and of course my parents) I doubt I’d be anything like I am now, or happy.
To take more and more funding away, I fear will lead to some children being left behind, unable to express themselves in a system they may not feel they fit in and a further condensation of education to fit a quantifiable structure, often linked to capital.
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About the Author
Anthony Briscoe is a performance poet and freelance artist from Blackpool, currently living in Manchester. His Poetry ranges from political-social commentary, space, advertisements replacing love and even clowns. Anthony likes to mix the serious and the silly to discuss meaningful issues through an absurdist lens, using his background in theatrics to add an energetic, engaging and entertaining performance to all his material.
You can find him on Facebook.