Sir Ken Robinson responds to the big picture questions about education from C.M Rubin in this interesting interview that begins with this insightful quote – “To lose our culture is to lose our memory”.
” I believe that the arts should be on an equal footing in schools with the sciences, humanities, languages and physical education. In most school systems there is a hierarchy. Arts programs are being cut ruthlessly since “No Child Left Behind” came out ten years ago. In the UK, they still talk about core foundation subjects, i.e. English, Math, and Science. In most countries the arts are a second tier activity. My first point is that the arts must be given equal footing. That’s what we argued in The Arts in Schools, the book I published in 1982.
There’s a need for a balance in arts education in several respects. One of them is that a proper arts curriculum would provide for music, dance, visual arts, literature and drama. When we did The Arts in Schools project, I made a point of not trying to define the arts in any form. The reason for this was that the arts are a vibrant set of disciplines, and when you go into different cultures they don’t think of there being 4 or 5 different art forms. For example, for an audience watching a dance performance, that is a visual art form; if you look at musical theater, that is a combination of different disciplines: acting, dancing, music. So even defining 5 or 6 different art forms can become problematic.
Secondly, I think there should be a balance within the teaching of the arts. I ran a large project in the UK in the 80’s called the “The Arts 5-16″ in which we offered a clear framework for arts education. There should be a balance between actually doing the arts and secondly, engaging students in understanding other people’s work. In other words, making and appraising. In some schools you will find that there is a greater emphasis on the latter, i.e. appraising. Students read books or listen to music, but they’re not encouraged to create it themselves. In other schools, you will find the opposite, i.e. students doing their own work and never looking at anybody else’s. A balanced arts education has to include both. ” Ken Robinson
Read more from C.M Rubin’s article, ‘The Global Search for Education: More Arts Please‘, here.