Recently, a child at one of our after school clubs said to me that he really enjoyed coming to the club because ‘it’s not like school’. When I asked him what he meant he went on to explain that when they have art lessons at school they are usually hurried and there is not time for them to ‘get into’ what they’re doing. He said that often they do not have time to properly finish their work and that this leaves him feeling dissatisfied with what he has produced.
As both a teacher and a parent I have seen less and less priority given to the creative arts in schools over the last decade and it is very sad to me that children have begun to notice how little value is placed in drawing and painting. One of the reasons I decided to stop teaching in schools was the demoralising lack of time and funding given to the creative subjects that I feel are so important in the development of well-rounded individuals. What kind of lessons are we giving children about perseverance and reward if they are starting art work with great enthusiasm then just letting them flounder in a forgotten corner of the classroom, half-finished? Setting a goal, over-coming obstacles, developing an ability to view oneself with a critical eye, living with imperfections are all vital skills for art and for life in general. As a former teacher myself, I completely understand the time pressure that schools are under nowadays and clearly the ‘measurable’ subjects are given priority in a world dominated by league tables and the threat of special measures. I long for a time, however, when we can get back to seeing the bigger picture and understanding that there is much more to the development of an individual than a row of ticks on a sheet.