Earlier this summer an email jumped out of my inbox and caught my eye immediately. It was a petition to keep art on the curriculum in schools across the country. I was baffled. What do you mean, ‘keep’ art in school? To me art and design are as important as maths or science, which led me to a horrific thought – is art a redundant skill for children? I hope not.
We now live in an era where modern tech products define the way we live, and in fact learn. Looking at kids these days has given me an understanding into how my parents must feel about modern technology looking at us, and how my Nana must feel looking at my parents. The young generation of children have mobile phones at the age of 3, are bought an iPad for Christmas and can use a computer better than me.
I was always lucky enough to come from a creative family where I was given quality time with my parents and provided with raw materials (playdough) to create masterpieces (messes) with. At GSCE level I discovered I really was actually quite creative, but just saw it as a hobby, unbeknown to me at that time that it would become my career.
My fear is therefore that by removing creative subjects from schools could we be preventing future talent from emerging? Also, are we losing touch with traditional techniques and instead replacing them with software of which we become reliant on? A close teacher friend of mine told me a story about a child who she was tutoring. She asked the child in question to write his name on a test paper, he responded with “I don’t know how to do that, but I can type it on the computer”.
Now I’m not saying technology can’t aid children. In fact modern design culture blends technology and art creating an outcome that could have taken months to physically create. I recently came across a great graphic design book called Go! A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design’. It aims to teach children from age 10 the key concepts of graphic design in practical but fun ways, educating them in the happy mix of art and machinery.
Many concerns have been raised around removing creative subjects in schools, with figureheads voicing concerns that this may affect Britain’s creative economy. If we take away art in schools, how will children ever discover they could be the world’s next Saatchi, their generation’s equivalent of Picasso or the next Prada? Could we be sacrificing future talents and pioneers in our and many other industries?
It leads me to wonder – If I had been brought up in today’s society would life have carved a different path for me… would I have lost out on these valuable lessons that have shaped the career I love today? The thought of that petrifies me.
Images of design book courtesy of Creative Review