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Arts Ed UK style: a look at the movement abroad

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51673 full

American educators aren't the only ones concerned about the loss of arts education in schools. Some lawmakers in England have pushed to include the arts as the "sixth pillar" of the English Baccalaureate, a performance measure for high school students more commonly known as the Ebacc.

The five pillars currently include English, science, math, languages and a humanities subject like history.

Wendy Earle, a researcher at Birkbeck, University of London, recently wrote an essay critiquing the current conversation in England around arts education. She said even arts education has a "get-the-grades emphasis" in England. She argues that the discussion in the UK around arts education has been too narrow and exaggerates the potential of the arts to solve social problems.

Instead, she said arts ought to be taught for its own sake, so children "can learn about some of the greatest artistic achievements of the past and enjoy their own artistic experiments."

The piece appeared in Spiked, an online magazine. Its lead editor is Brendan O'Neill, a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor. 

The piece includes an interesting history of arts education in the England.

Here's an excerpt:

Too many of those working in contemporary education see the arts as having a moral mission. They view the arts as a means to promote empathy, raise environmental awareness, or inculcate anti-consumerism. The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD), for example, even provides a series of teaching case studies to show how the arts can be used to help children to explore their identity and community, to find out about the Holocaust, and learn about recycling.

The conclusion is difficult to avoid: the future of art is seriously at risk, not because the government does not recognise its importance, but because so little art is taught, even under the guise of arts education.

Do you think arts education at the K-12 level should be used to tackle social issues? What type of arts ed efforts do you find to be the most beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.

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