Performing Arts: What’s the Point? by @Fulbridge_Acad

We are here to educate children, not to deliver a commercial or even a national curriculum

We have always prioritised the children, it is their school in their community, and we have created a bespoke creative approach that puts a broad and balanced curriculum with the performing arts and sport as a central prerequisite of a successful education.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Iain Erskine @fulbridge_acad and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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In Sir Ken Robinson’s words, ‘We are here to educate children’, not to deliver a commercial or even a national curriculum. At Fulbridge we do this in an environment that makes you long for childhood; to paraphrase Bill Strickland, ‘Beautiful environments make beautiful people and at Fulbridge we believe that children deserve sunshine and flowers in their lives.’

We have just opened a new eight classroom building in which we chose to have a very strong Performing Arts theme. The classrooms, or studios, as we call them, are all associated with well known places that are famous for the performing arts: the West End Studio as well as Bollywood, Pixar, Broadway, Disney, Abbey Road, Universal and Hollywood Studio. The other rooms in the building are named after pop songs, ‘Rehab’ for First Aid, ‘Dangerous’ for the Site Managers store room, ‘Something’ for the store room, ‘Talk’ for the meeting room, ‘Hello’ for the office and ‘Imagine’ for the staff room.

In Education we can, if we are not careful, allow the performing arts to become second class citizens or subjects, and see children as only really being successful if they are good at reading, writing or maths.

Ken Robinson in his ‘Out of Our Minds’ book provides us with a wonderful history of how education has developed over the centuries, so allow me to adapt his words in a very brief history lesson: “Between 1450 and 1600 Europe passed through what became known as the Renaissance. We saw the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Galileo, Copernicus, Shakespeare and Isaac Newton. They produced works in art and literature of unsurpassed beauty and depth and created the foundations of modern science, technology and philosophy. Leonardo, the quintessential renaissance man, was gifted in painting, sculpture, mathematics and Science.

Fast forward to the 1650’s until towards the end of the 1700’s and we see what we call the age of enlightenment. Far be it from me to question it’s name but this period in history saw “the great divide begin between two ways of thinking: the arts and the sciences. The union of the arts and sciences gradually dissolved during the period of Enlightenment. The ensuing age of romanticism saw amazing advances in the arts and the sciences,” however I think sadly that science and technology seem to have assumed the intellectual high ground and the Arts are not given, by some, the intellectual recognition they deserve.

Some of the guilt for this happening, especially in more recent times must be laid at the door of the education system, politicians and Secretaries of State for Education. The only subjects that now seem to really matter, in some peoples eyes, often exclude the performing arts.

At the Fulbridge Academy we want to reverse this trend and the theme that runs through this building is our start; from little acorns …….. we could start an age of enlightenment in education and return to an educational renaissance where the arts and the sciences are seen as equals… you never know.

At Fulbridge we already have a PE team covering PPA time and delivering high quality PE from our own specialists, we have a music specialist doing the same role and we are now planning to increase our expressive arts provision and have the music provision in an Arts and Creativity Team with other specialists delivering high quality art, drama and dance for all children on a more regular basis.

At a time when the educational world is changing so much I believe it is time for a paradigm shift in education, a true enlightened renaissance where teachers, the professionals, grasp this opportunity to take the lead in creating an educational provision that is about the needs of children rather than political expediency or feeling entrapped by not wanting to move away from the way education always has been.

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