The Importance of the Arts in Education


Jonnie Bridges, Head of Academic Music, Downside School looks at why Music and the Arts should have equal importance on the curriculum as STEM subjects, if you want to create well-rounded individuals.


For many years, STEM subjects have been highly valued by institutions. Teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics are how we will produce top-quality learners who have minds capable of innovating and leading business and industry. These ‘hard’ skills make a learned and logical-minded individual, but let’s not forget about the ‘soft’ skills required in many walks of life.

Soft skills are deemed to be those which aren’t measurable through common means of testing; teamwork, etiquette, communicating, listening and analysing, all of which are increasingly important in the modern world. This is where the Arts can contribute by creating a well-rounded individual; someone who can analyse, create, listen, interpret and problem-solve within the context of a team. These are the qualities which make a highly admired and desirable person.

In recent years, there has been pressure to reduce the curriculum time for creative subjects. These subjects have also had a stigma attached to them; creative subjects are for a certain ‘type’ of person who may not be very successful in

maths or may not enjoy the sciences.  Try telling this to Einstein or Heisenberg who were accomplished violinists and pianists!

In an ideal world, equal emphasis should be placed on all subjects; the analytical, the logical and the creative so that one individual can achieve in all areas.

The individual who understands logarithms but is also willing to take on the lead role of Macbeth is probably one who has a great memory, a logical mind and is brave enough to perform on-stage to a critical audience of their parents and peers.

Pablo Picasso had it spot-on when he said, “all children are born artists”. The problem comes when we teach the art out of them. Without an emphasis on our Arts subjects, we deny students the chance to develop this inherent creativity.

Music and the Arts have an incredibly important role to play in a student’s education and shouldn’t be overlooked as ‘additional’ or ‘extra-curricular’. A painter or pianist who has finely trained motor skills could make a stable-handed electronic engineer and an actor could have the oracy skills to make a fine barrister. For each of these examples, one requires knowledge provided from our STEM subjects and the skills which are promoted in the Arts subjects in greater quantities than anywhere else.

An education without music, dance, drama, physical education and design is an education which strips young people of the chance to become more developed individuals and in an age which is all about individuality, we cannot afford to let this happen.




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