Advocacy Datasheet #2: Topic: Education:
Taking the position that arts education must begin at the youngest age possible, we draw upon the US Dept of Education’s supporting comments. “Similar to English, math, science and the other core subjects, the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards at the state and national levels. They require highly qualified teachers who challenge all students, not just those who are considered artistically talented, to perform works of art, create their own works, and respond to works of art and the ideas they impart.
In addition to studying the arts for their own sake, experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development, and can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school. Research studies point to strong relationships between learning in the arts and fundamental cognitive skills and capacities used to master other core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics.”
At present the arts in primary and secondary education are seen as ‘nice to have’, and are subservient to other subjects that are seen as core subjects in a points based culture. Our position is that the current curriculum review must take arts and culture into consideration, and use it as a core subject which can be seen as a source for innovation not only in the creative sector but also in other academic fields. For us the arts should be placed within an area of cultural studies that are then used not only to educate in this area, but also to show how the creative, critical and the historical mind is prevalent across all educational areas.
We can also see that second level students are not being prepared for third level education. It is important that a bridge is developed between the two. It is also important that address is made to the quality of intake to colleges and on-going assessment. It has been said that it is difficult to fail students which is leading to a wide discrepancy in terms of the quality of graduates. We have no statistics on how many graduates remain in the arts, or who moves to another sector using their arts education as a background. Such research is vital for us to understand the effectiveness of our current education programmes.
The creation of the second tier Technical University system is a recent arrival. There has been little public discussion on this or the proposed change of relationships between art colleges and universities. Art forms such as theatre studies, acting, creative writing, etc. sit with unique departments within the University model. As Art & Design does not sit with departments within the university system, and are represented by colleges such as NCAD at that level, there is no process in place to ensure that all art forms are equally represented at the University level. This obviously raises the question of EITHER removing theatre studies, acting, creative writing, etc from universities such as TCD and UCD, OR ensuring that Art & Design is also placed at that level. We see this specific matter as outside of the rationalisation of education provision within the sector, but one that is vital in terms of the academic consideration being given to some and potentially not to other art forms.
- Call on government to ensure that arts education is placed at the centre of the curriculum development agenda.
- Call on government to ensure that arts is a core subject in primary and second level education.
- Call on colleges & universities to provide statistics on art graduates: including retention in the arts sector; use of arts education in other industries.
- Call on colleges, universities to create a bridge with second level education to ensure quality of applications for art college.
- Make contact with your local schools and colleges about their arts curriculum.
- Make contact with education authority requesting their policies surrounding arts education and make representation about the benefits that you have seen from working in the arts.