Art is good for children

boy holding picture he drew

All parents want the best for their child, but often academic and sport clubs are favoured rather than the arts. There is very little time for creativity and art in the primary school curriculum. 

In secondary schools fewer teenagers are taking art and creative subjects as an option due to pressure on schools to take the baccalaureate option. I feel it is a great shame for the younger generation – and the country – that cultural pursuits are being squeezed.

In my opinion, art is good for the soul: you use the right side of your brains it is relaxing like meditation. Therefore it is great for relieving stress, problem solving, resilience, self-expression, confidence and self-belief. All of these skills are great skills for life and industry and there are a growing number of experts, both in education and business who support this sentiment. 

Annette Byrd, a manager with the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, was recently quoted explaining the benefits of recruiting staff with artistic backgrounds.

“We need people who think with the creative side of their brains –people who have played in a band, who have painted…it enhances symbiotic thinking capabilities, not always thinking in the same paradigm, learning how to kick-start a new idea, or how to get a job done better, less expensively.

In February this year (2019), MPs on the Commons Education Select Committee were told how arts teaching could become more important than maths and science in a tech-based future. Education researcher Andreas Schleicher was giving evidence as part of an inquiry into what’s being called the fourth industrial revolution – the influence of robotics and artificial intelligence on society.

Mr Schleicher, who leads the Programme for International Student Assessment, told MPs: 

We talk about soft skills often as social and emotional skills, and hard skills as about science and maths, but it might be the opposite.”

In his view, the likelihood is that science and maths may become regarded as being “softer” in future when the need for them decreases due to technology, and the “hard” skills will be “your curiosity, your leadership, your persistence and your resilience.”

Such qualities are certainly tested and enhanced through arts-based creative work.

girl painting a picture

More than a decade ago, the author Daniel Pink was making a positive case for creative skills in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future (Marshall Cavendish, £9.99).

Pink says:

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. 

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathisers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

As a parent of school age children, I certainly wouldn’t advocate fellow-parents to tell their kids to give up on maths and science. But what I would do is encourage them not to give up on the creative subjects either.

Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, the squeeze on the arts curriculum continues. Luckily, artists like myself are doing our bit to keep the arts alive across our communities.

I am passionate about art and believe that anyone can draw. I run regular art and STEM classes and workshop for children (and adults). Click here to find out more/book these classes. 

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